April 4, 2008

Only three universities in the United States boast an official tartan or plaid. The University of Kentucky soon will make four. Recently UK students were challenged to create a plaid unique to the university, and Kentuckians will choose their favorite later this month.

The Kentucky Plaid Project began in January as part of two undergraduate classes in the UK College of Agriculture’s School of Human Environmental Sciences. Students designed plaids in Kentucky colors as both a class project and entries in a contest to determine the university’s official plaid. The winning design will appear on products available for purchase as early as August, including a scarf and tie. More products will be offered in the future.

“This is a real-world experience for our students,” said Scarlett Wesley, merchandising, apparel and textiles assistant professor and one of the project’s coordinators. “They are earning class credit for a project that ultimately will establish a new tradition at UK and create a signature plaid fabric that is uniquely UK.”

UK’s first lady Patsy Todd is honorary chair of the Kentucky Plaid Project advisory committee. Wesley said the committee was extremely honored by her participation and help. Todd also is an alumna of the school.

Wesley said the project also provides an opportunity for faculty to use business and global partnerships to disseminate knowledge, technology and business techniques.

“Basically, the Kentucky Plaid Project is going to integrate applied technology in teaching to generate economic benefits to the school,” she said.

All royalties from the sale of traditional UK plaid products return to the School of Human Environmental Sciences to enhance the students’ educational experiences.

In March the advisory committee, made up of UK faculty, staff and industry professionals, narrowed about 35 entries down to their final four. The committee will announce the winning plaid as well as a winning tag design and logo after an online vote later this month.

Wesley believes the project is a great opportunity for partnership among UK Athletics, the College of Agriculture and UK fans nationwide.

“This will be something all associated with UK can be proud of,” she said. “It will also provide an opportunity for faculty and student recognition of excellence in teaching that will shape the future.”

This fall, merchandising, apparel and textile students will begin to develop more Kentucky Plaid products as a class project.

Voting will begin later this month on the UK Web site. Alumni, faculty, staff and students will receive an e-mail reminder to vote when the voting site is available. Voting is not limited to the university community; anyone can help UK choose its official plaid. Wesley encouraged Kentucky fans to keep checking the UK Web site to see when voting begins.

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