Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Executive Summary

The purpose of this study is to begin laying a foundation for assessing the degree of progress the University of Kentucky (UK) has made toward the goals defined in the Top 20 Business Plan. The plan was created to guide the university’s efforts in becoming a top twenty public research institution by 2020 per a mandate by the Kentucky General Assembly.

Up to two strategies and/or policy suggestions were chosen for analysis for each of the four major domains outlined in the plan (undergraduate education, graduate education, faculty recognition, and research). Academic quality indicators were then developed for these strategies and policies and UK’s standing was compared to its Top 20 Benchmark institutions.

Results of the assessment are presented and discussed for all indicators on which data was successfully collected. These results are broken into three sections. The first section shows trend charts over time for many of the indicators for both UK and the benchmark median to see if any changes have occurred after the plan was implemented. The second section analyzes UK’s own numbers to see where it stands in comparison to the goals it set in the plan to be met by a particular date. In the third section a sample publication is introduced that includes graphics for all of the indicators for the most recent year in which data was available.

An analysis of the trends reveals that UK has made some improvements when looking at before and after the plan was introduced. Nonetheless, when these numbers are compared to the benchmark median, the university has made little to no progress in closing the gap and thus improving its Top 20 ranking. When comparing UK’s progress against the goals set for itself in the Top 20 Business Plan, the outlook could definitely be better, as reaching most of its goals will require a sizeable effort by the university. While it can be argued that UK’s Top 20 Business Plan is having an impact, it can also be stated that this impact has not been sizeable enough to make a difference when comparisons are made to the university’s benchmark institutions, especially when the university is failing to reach many of the milestones it set for itself to reach by a certain date.

Accompanying this analysis is a sample publication that depicts graphically UK’s most recent progress, illustrating how UK stacks up against the institutions that comprise the benchmark median.

Further study is needed, however, to verify the conclusions drawn from the results, as the analysis was limited due to the size and scope of the plan and provides only a narrow view of the university’s efforts to reach Top 20 status.



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