(Edited press releases)
The University of Kentucky announced plans Jan. 29 for a new equine undergraduate program and significant improvements to its Maine Chance Farm near Lexington.
The expansion of its equine programs was orchestrated through the university’s Equine Initiative. The mission of the initiative, launched in May 2005, is to discover, share, and apply new knowledge to enhance the health, performance, and management of horses commensurate with the signature status of Kentucky’s equine industry.
“The Equine Initiative is a prime example of how UK’s Top 20 pursuit serves to better the entire commonwealth,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. “The initiative’s plans to enhance our teaching, research, and outreach capabilities will help to create better opportunities for Kentucky’s horse industry.”
Strong input from college of agriculture faculty and Kentucky equine industry stakeholders was a central component of the planning efforts. As part of the Equine Initiative, UK has created a new equine-based undergraduate curriculum, enhanced existing and is establishing new equine research and outreach programs, and has established new partnerships with other equine organizations and universities.
“The college endeavors to become the world’s leading institution in equine education and research, and these program enhancements are a positive first step in that direction,” said Scott Smith, dean of the college of agriculture.
When the new undergraduate curriculum launches this fall, it will be first time UK has offered an undergraduate degree in equine studies rather than the handful of horse-related courses students have been able to take in the past. This step was determined to be a critical need in a state whose number one agricultural commodity is horses.
The new Equine Science and Management undergraduate degree program is comprised of two tracks – an equine management option that focuses on management of the horse and farm enterprise, and an equine business option that focuses on business and organizational management within the industry.
Bob Coleman, formerly the college of agriculture’s extension horse specialist, has assumed the role of associate director for undergraduate education in equine science and management.
The university has also announced three distinct areas of enhancement on its Maine Chance Equine Campus: an equine education and research cluster, an equine health research cluster, and infrastructure and aesthetic improvements aligning with horse farm best management practices. Enhancements won’t be limited to the construction and renovation of facilities but also include significant upgrades to the farm’s infrastructure.
Additionally, a $1 million endowed professorship has been established by the James Graham Brown Foundation and Research Challenge Trust Fund to honor Stanley Smith Dickson, a native Kentuckian with a multigenerational legacy in the state’s horse industry. The foundation’s gift of $500,000 was made to UK in honor of Dickson’s years of service with its board of directors. That gift was matched through the Research Challenge Trust Fund, and a $1 million endowed professorship was established to be used toward the university’s equine programs.