Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Research, Economic, and Community Development

Kentucky will be stronger by generating new knowledge and research investments, producing high-demand degrees, increasing the educational attainment of its workforce, and improving its communities.


Over the last decade, Kentucky’s universities attracted world-renowned researchers, more than doubled their collective federal research funding, and made large investments in public service. These efforts yielded new knowledge and applied and translational research that led to new products, businesses, and jobs. The campuses also have played an active role in supporting local schools, governments, economic development efforts, and the provision of healthcare.


While the achievements of Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions have been impressive, the economy has been slow to transform. Kentucky currently ranks:

  • 45th on the New Economy Index, which measures knowledge jobs, globalization, economic dynamism, the digital economy, and innovation capacity.
  • 45th in the number of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees awarded as a share of all degrees.
  • 41st on annual per capita postsecondary research and development expenditures.

As Kentucky ramps up efforts to compete effectively in the global economy, degree production must be aligned with the current and projected workforce needs of the state. More students should be engaged in undergraduate research and encouraged to pursue STEM +H (science, technology, engineering, math, and health) and other high-demand fields.

At the same time, Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions will continue to advance social, artistic, cultural, and environmental progress through regional stewardship and embrace the value of the liberal arts. Postsecondary faculty and staff will educate future professionals, entrepreneurs, and citizens and upgrade the skills of current employees. An educated workforce and high quality of life will attract more educated people to the state, which in turn will lure prospective employers.

Policy Objectives

Policy Objective 6: Increase basic, applied, and translational research to create new knowledge and economic growth.


  • 6.1. Support the critical role that the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville play in the creation of new knowledge and recognize universities and faculty members for the advancement of knowledge and enlightenment.
  • 6.2. Support collaborative research efforts that leverage university expertise, lead to research investments and commercialization in high-growth or emerging areas, and are aligned with business and industry growth.
  • 6.3. Develop and implement a strategic communications plan that highlights campus-based research and development initiatives and the impact of this work on Kentucky’s economic and community competitiveness.
  • 6.4. Secure additional funding for research matching programs and explore new funding approaches to maximize research, Kentucky Innovation Act investments, and multi-campus collaborations.
  • 6.5. Advance Kentucky’s STEM+H agenda through ongoing leadership, advocacy, and collaborative efforts.
  • 6.6. Foster an innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial culture within the postsecondary education community.


Policy Objective 7: Increase educational attainment and quality of life in Kentucky communities through regional stewardship, public service, and community outreach.


  • 7.1. Strengthen and expand partnerships with business, industry, government, non-profit, and other educational entities to meet Kentucky’s workforce and community needs.
  • 7.2. Support collaborations among postsecondary education providers to serve regional needs and planning efforts to raise the educational attainment level of the Commonwealth.
  • 7.3. Maximize the impact of postsecondary education’s contribution to improving the health of Kentucky’s people.


Research, Economic, and Community Development Performance Metrics
  • Research & development funding
  • Degrees and credentials in STEM+H Fields (science, technology, Engineering, math, and health)
  • Educational attainment at the Associate level and higher

(Performance Metrics Chart)

Legislative Mandates
  • The Kentucky Innovation Act (2000)
    calls for "a strong, entrepreneurial economy, characterized by knowledge, innovation, and speed" that can be romoted through research and high-technology enterprises.
  • Goal 2 of HB 1 (1997)
    directs UK to become "a major, comprehensive research university ranked nationally in the top 20 public universities."
  • Goal 3 of HB 1
    directs KCTCS to "develop a workforce with the skills to meet the needs of new and existing industries" and "improve the employability of citizens."

Last Updated 8/11/2011