Chamber hears from University of Kentucky representative about future plans

Pikeville, KY (October 17, 2019) – Members of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce heard Thursday about plans for the future of the University of Kentucky during a membership luncheon with Michael Richey, the university’s vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement.

Richey, who has been with the University of Kentucky for more than 50 years and who has helped the school raise more than $2.5 billion, told those in attendance that the university was a “land-grant school,” which he said makes higher education accessible to a greater number of people.

“Last year, over 7 million contacts were made with local people and about 200,000 4-Hers ages nine to 14 were involved in informal educational activities,” said Richey, touting the efforts of the University’s Cooperative Extension Offices found in each county of the state.

Some of the areas Richey said UK is focused on going forward include cancer and medical research, research on combatting opioid addition, facility updates, and student success. He said 66 percent of students at UK graduate within a six-year window, which, he said, is a good rate. However, the school wants to hit a 70 percent graduation rate, he said, to match the top 125 schools in the nation in terms of retention.

In addition to those topics of focus, he said the university is also working to make education more affordable for students.

“We’re doing something at the University of Kentucky, and we were the first in the nation to do it, it’s called a LEADS scholarship – Leveraging Educational Affordability for Developing Success. What this is doing is this, it’s putting the money where the financial need is greatest,” said Richey.

The LEADS Scholarship is targeted at students across the state with an unmet educational need above $5,000, regardless of GPA. The scholarship will help those students lessen their financial burden, which will likely help with graduation rate, Richey said.

During the luncheon, Richey also shared information about UK’s $2.1 billion “Kentucky Can” comprehensive fundraising campaign.

“One of our goals is to increase our scholarship endowment by $300 million and help these students who have dire financial need,” said Richey.

The campaign also includes expanding financial endowment numbers for the university and building new facilities for students.

The luncheon was held at the Asia Grill & Buffet in Pikeville.

For more information about the Chamber, visit them online at,, or call 606.432.5504.

The Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is located at 178 College Street, Pikeville, and serves more than 500 businesses in eight Eastern Kentucky Counties: Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, and Pike. The Chamber’s mission is to be a resource for businesses in Southeast Kentucky that is committed to improving the regional economy.