May 23, 2005

As he kicked off a statewide bus tour to tout how UK should be a catalyst for positive change, University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. today announced an initiative to design ways to work more closely with Kentucky’s horse industry.

The College of Agriculture Equine Initiative, a partnership between the College and the horse industry, was established through efforts of the Gluck Equine Research Foundation, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, and College of Agriculture faculty and administrators. The initiative will be focused on ensuring that ongoing UK programs are more responsive to the daily needs of the equine industry and will be conducted in concert with the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) and numerous other equine organizations in Kentucky.

 The Equine Initiative involves:

  • Creation of an equine planning committee led by UK sociologist Lori Garkovich to develop comprehensive solutions to challenges confronting the industry.
  • $8.5 million to enhance UK’s Livestock Disease and Diagnostic Center. The center is critical to help UK address equine diseases and conditions.
  • The support of Todd in hiring a new epidemiologist at the Diagnostic Center to create a real-time information system to help researchers limit disease outbreaks and more quickly make diagnoses when they occur.
  • Conducting listening sessions across the state to give all sectors of the equine industry input into new programs, including ones that better meet the educational needs of UK students.
  • As part of the effort, Todd recognized that a $6 million gift will enhance studies of diseases and other challenges facing the equine industry. The gift is from the estate of Janet H. Koller

A similar relationship to support the cattle industry in Kentucky has been hailed as a model.

“Horses represent Kentucky’s Number 1 agricultural enterprise with nearly a billion dollars in sales annually,” Todd said, flanked by leading representatives of the equine industry. “As the state’s flagship, land-grant research institution, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect this industry that is so important economically and to our Commonwealth’s very identity.”

Todd announced the new partnership Monday during a kick-off of UK’s “Dream Tour” – a two-week bus tour of more than 20 communities across Kentucky, designed to report on how the university’s Top 20 mission positively impacts the lives of all Kentuckians. The equine partnership is one of several initiatives that comprise the “Commonwealth Collaboratives” program.

The Collaboratives are areas – ranging from health-care problems to economic development and educational issues – where senior professors will track the progress of research projects and report each year to the state. (A list of initial Collaboratives is attached.)

“The equine industry is a global industry today, one in which clusters of economic activity form around areas of success,” Todd said. “UK must be a partner with our horse agribusiness community to sustain – and improve upon – our success.

“If UK is going to be a catalyst for a new Commonwealth, one of our most important initiatives must be to help our already established areas of success maintain their progress.”


Media Contact: Jay Blanton, UK Public Relations, 257-6605.