Experienced Dean, Campus Leader Chosen as Next Provost

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto announced Tuesday that the dean of the Gatton College of Business and Economics will be UK’s next provost.

David Blackwell will begin his duties as provost on Jan. 8, Capilouto said in a campus-wide announcement today. Blackwell has served as dean of the Gatton College since 2012, a time of tremendous growth and transformation.

Most recently, Blackwell led the fundraising efforts toward a $65 million expansion and renovation of the Gatton College facility, considered one of the premier business education facilities in the country. The initiative was funded completely with private dollars.

“We had two outstanding candidates for this critically important position,” Capilouto said. “Donna Arnett (dean of the College of Public Health) and David Blackwell are leaders of their respective colleges but they also are respected leaders in their academic disciplines and throughout the campus. They are, indeed, emblematic of the faculty and administrative leadership and quality that exists throughout UK.

In Dean Blackwell, we have someone with years of academic experience in his field and as an administrator, who has led a college through a time of tremendous growth, change and progress. Our university community is in the midst of similar transformations and changes. I am confident in the seamless transition Dean Blackwell can make to the provost’s office to continue the progress we’ve made under Provost Tim Tracy and the outstanding team there that is pivotal to the success of academic units across UK.”

“I am honored and incredibly gratified by the confidence President Capilouto has placed in me to take on this important task at such a critical juncture for UK in our progress as the state’s indispensable institution,” Blackwell said. “I look forward continuing the work Provost Tracy started to ensure greater student success, with efforts such as UK LEADS to address unmet financial need. And I look forward to new innovations and collaborations that we will undertake alongside an outstanding and dedicated team, who is advocating every day on behalf of the faculty, staff and students that make this community so special.”

During Blackwell’s tenure, enrollment at Gatton has grown by 36 percent to more than 4,200 students, including an increase in first-year students of nearly 70 percent. Even with the growth, retention and graduation rates among Gatton students also have continued to climb.

Diversity also have been a focus of Blackwell’s tenure, with more than 54 percent of the faculty members hired since 2012 contributing to the ethnic, racial, and gender diversity of the Gatton College, including over 30 percent international, over 16 percent Hispanic or African American, and 30 percent women.

And, significantly, Blackwell has engaged in partnerships and collaborations with business leaders and other universities, including launching an innovative joint executive MBA program with the University of Louisville.

Blackwell replaces Tracy, who announced earlier this year that he was leaving UK at the end of the year to become chief executive officer of Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, a research and development company in Cincinnati.