October 18, 2011
Contact: Michele Sparks, Director of Communications (859) 257-0040
For Immediate Release
Wilkinson Enjoying First Year as Gatton's MBA Leader
For a person who has "never lived outside my zip code," Harvie Wilkinson, director of MBA programs in the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics since late June, sure has built up a world of experience through an interesting and challenging professional career.
The Lexington native and University of Kentucky graduate (undergraduate and graduate studies in economics from the Gatton College and Juris Doctor from the College of Law) is delighted to be back on campus and working in the building where he took so many of his classes.
"I always have been impressed with the quality of the faculty here in the Gatton College," said Wilkinson. "And the energy of the students and staff in both our one-year and evening MBA programs gets me excited."
Wilkinson, who attended public schools in Lexington while growing up not far from the UK campus, did not have any idea what he wanted to major in when he enrolled as a first-year college student.
"In my sophomore year, I had a 200-level economics course and loved it," said Wilkinson.
Economics agreed with him so well that he wound up earning a fellowship to graduate school. One of his faculty members during his time at Gatton was Merl Hackbart, who taught Wilkinson in an economics class. Hackbart currently serves as interim dean of the college.
At the same time as he was learning how businesses, societies, and countries function economically, Wilkinson became intrigued with the law and was accepted to the UK College of Law. Among his faculty there were Bill Fortune and Bob Lawson, who still teach in the law school.
In all, Wilkinson spent eight years (1971-1979) at UK attaining his degrees.
He began to practice commercial banking and equine law at what is now the firm of Stoll Keenan Ogden in 1980. One of his clients was The Keeneland Association, where he worked with and for the late William T. "Buddy" Bishop III.
"I was so very fortunate to have a couple of great mentors in Buddy Bishop and Judge Joe Scott, a U.S. bankruptcy judge," Wilkinson said. "Each of them helped me to a better understanding and appreciation for the interesting and diverse nature of the practice of law."
In the spring of 2000, longtime Keeneland Vice President and Treasurer Stan Jones was retiring and Wilkinson was hired by the racing and sales company as director of finance, later being promoted to vice president and treasurer.
"At Keeneland, you literally deal with people from every corner of the world," said Wilkinson. "It was a tremendous experience and enabled me to visit Canada, England, Japan, and South America, among other places."
Wilkinson said Keeneland, largely due to the influence of chairman emeritus, James E. "Ted" Bassett III, encouraged its executives to give back to the community and take an active role in civic and educational affairs. Wilkinson was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the Fayette County School Board. He then was elected to a full term and was selected by his fellow board members to serve as chair for two years. Wilkinson also has served on the boards of the Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross and the United Way of the Bluegrass, where he served as chair. Presently, he serves on the boards of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, the Kentucky Blood Center, and God's Pantry.
Wilkinson spent almost 11 years at Keeneland, yet his love for UK continued to be evidenced by his service as a member of the advisory board for the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration and the UK Libraries National Advisory Board. When Mary Lee Kerr, who directed the launch of Gatton's one-year MBA program and helped guide it and the evening program to national recognition announced that she was retiring, Wilkinson pursued the position and was selected after a national search.
"Harvie already has had a very positive impact on our program," said Hackbart. "He brings a lot of fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the table as we strive to take our MBA programs to an even higher level."
For his part, Wilkinson sees the broader integration of companies throughout Kentucky into Gatton's MBA programs as a major goal.
"Our Project Connect program, which gives our students terrific opportunities for real world experience, already is very strong in Central Kentucky," Wilkinson said. "We want to expand these partnerships to include corporations and businesses across the Commonwealth and beyond. And I am confident that our wonderful alumni and friends throughout Kentucky, across the nation, and around the world will help us do just that.
"It's a privilege to be able to work at my alma mater. I want to make a difference for this college and the University of Kentucky."
Together with his wife, Nellie, also a UK graduate, the Wilkinsons have three grown children. His son is a two-time Gatton grad, while his younger daughter recently graduated from Gatton's Global Scholars program.