Office of the President April 24, 2007
1. Legislature Approves Samaritan Project, Stalls Livestock Diagnostic Center
The highlight of the 30-day regular session of the 2007 Kentucky General Assembly was the approval for the university to use its own resources to purchase and renovate Samaritan Hospital. The legislature approved the critical Samaritan project for UK HealthCare on the last day of the session; very few other appropriations measures passed this session. The capital projects vetoed at the end of the 2006 session were not restored despite much discussion before the session by both parties in both houses that they would be. For UK, that means that it did not receive $13.5 million in state bonds to complete the new Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center or agency bonding authority to renovate the Blazer Hall cafeteria and renovate several dormitories. Senate Bills 1 and 2 and House Bill 5 failed to pass. The statewide STEM task force chaired by President Todd worked diligently with leaders of both chambers on these initiatives to attract more teachers and students to math and science education and to promote an energy industry that would help provide jobs for those with increased skills in those areas. Finally, two bills initiated by UK passed. The first is Senate Bill 130, which allows each postsecondary institution to establish procedures when addressing a potential contract between an employee-owned business and the university. This will help prevent faculty members who start companies from intellectual property developed on-campus from having to leave their university's employ to sell the university those services when appropriate. The second is House Bill 296, which exempts certain public entities that are self-insured from purchasing surety bonds for workers' compensation claims. If this bill had not passed UK could have faced extra costs of approximately $250,000 annually.
2. New Supercomputer Thrusts UK into Top Ranks
The University of Kentucky has acquired a new IBM supercomputer that places the university's research capability among those of the nation's leaders for public and private university research computing. The state-of-the-art IBM System Cluster 1350 offers a theoretical peak performance of 16 teraflops of calculation capacity, offering both greater speed and broader access for scientific research in a wide range of academic disciplines. This means the new machine can handle up to 16.3 trillion calculations per second. John Connolly, director of the UK Center for Computational Science, said that based on rankings released in November 2006, the new supercomputer would place UK among the top echelon of American universities with research supercomputers. The UK supercomputer also would rank high among the world's military, governmental, industrial, and academic supercomputers, based on the semi-annual listing prepared by the University of Tennessee and Mannheim University, Germany. The ranking will be