Eli Capilouto told the audience at the Great Owensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Rooster Booster Breakfast Thursday that he was traveling to Owensboro for selfish reasons.
“You remind me of who I work for at the University of Kentucky, and those are the citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations,” Capilouto said. “You are the center of commerce, culture and compassion, and I admire you.”
The British president said he and the members of the chamber all share a mission: to advance Kentucky, whether it is economically, through education or creating a healthier citizenship. Whatever the mission, the responsibility of everyone at the Owensboro Convention Center should be to create a better future for everyone in Kentucky.
This motivation encourages him to work harder so that the university “has more and more communities like yours,” he said.
“Even though we had to fight the pandemic, which continues to annoy us, we realized that our responsibility is to start thinking about an even brighter future for Kentucky, and what it should contain… knowing now that we have to be able to pivot on a dime if necessary, ”he said.
He reviewed five principles that he believes best describe the UK’s future: inspiring ingenuity; be responsible for caring for Kentuckians; continue to give priority to students; maintain accountability, trust and transparency; and honor the idea that we are many people, but we must be one community.
At the start of the pandemic, Capilouto described, the UK’s brightest minds gathered to discuss how to overcome this. As leaders in state and country, in research and medical services, these representatives knew they had to act quickly to move forward.
They have developed a playbook. A plan was devised to call each of the 30,000 students after being sent home for self-isolation, to make sure they were okay.
The UK College of Design created a unique face mask that could be easily made and used in the College of Medicine and other health sciences. The UK has also emerged as one of the biggest centers for clinical trials, Capilouto said.
“I am going to admit to anyone that this has been the most difficult year in my 40 year career,” he said.
Yet, seeing the action unfold, he felt hope.
In December 2020, Capilouto told Dr Steven Stack, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, that if it had access to the COVID-19 vaccine, the UK would ensure that every teacher, first responder and health worker in the County of Fayette would be inoculated.
In a few weeks, 250,000 doses had been administered.
“We cannot lose sight of our responsibility as the flagship research university of the Commonwealth to maintain the trust with the people who make everything that I have described to you possible,” he said.