Lee T. Todd, Jr. became the 11th president of the University of Kentucky on July 1, 2001, after serving as senior vice president of IBM's Lotus Development Corp.
Since his arrival on campus, President Todd has concentrated his efforts and energies on helping his alma mater achieve a greater level of national prominence. To that end, he launched the University of Kentucky's Top 20 Business Plan in December 2005. The plan is a quantitative analysis highlighting what it will take for UK to achieve its state-mandated goal of building a Top 20 public research university. Widely hailed as the first business plan by a public university in the nation, UK's plan garnered widespread national attention. It has been featured by national media outlets and recognized by peer institutions, as several higher education leaders have visited UK's campus to learn more about the Business Plan approach. The Top 20 Business Plan also gained support throughout the Commonwealth, as the Kentucky General Assembly fully funded the plan beginning in 2007-08.
President Todd's push for national prominence has led to remarkable growth across a number of university measures. Enrollment at UK has grown from 23,852 students in 2000 to 26,913 students in fall 2008 – a 13 percent increase. The university has remained focused on increasing student quality as it grew. In 2000, the percentage of UK students graduating within six years was 55.5 percent. Last year, it was 61.4 percent — a UK record and the highest of any public university in Kentucky. Since 2001, UK's research expenditures have more than doubled — jumping from $159.9 million to $337 million in fiscal year 2008.
Despite difficult financial conditions during his tenure, UK's annual budget has grown from $1.2 billion during President Todd's first year to more than $2.4 billion today.
President Todd has directed the consolidation of several colleges and campus units to eliminate duplication and improve campus efficiency. To date, those efficiency efforts have resulted in more than $88 million in university savings. At the same time, he expanded the university's educational reach. In May 2004, the UK Board of Trustees approved the creation of the UK College of Public Health, the university's first health professions college since the College of Allied Health Professions was established in 1966. This action allowed the School of Public Health, formerly part of the College of Medicine, to attain college status, making it the UK Chandler Medical Center's sixth college of health professions.
One of President Todd's passions has been to change Kentucky's economy to make it more globally competitive. He established the position of Vice President for Commercialization and Economic Development that reports directly to him to substantially increase the use of university intellectual property to establish start-up companies. He is faculty advisor of the E-Club, an organization for students to learn how to become entrepreneurs. President Todd was instrumental in creating the Lexington Venture Club and the Bluegrass Angels Network. His efforts have resulted in a significant increase in the amount of venture capital available in the region, the number of start-up companies formed by university faculty and staff, as well as the number of patents issued and royalties received by the university. UK is seventh in start-up companies among all public and private universities, according to the Association of University Technology Managers (2007).
President Todd has spearheaded an effort to revitalize health care in Kentucky. In June 2006, UK unveiled the Commonwealth's Medical Campus of the Future, a multi-phased project aimed at providing Kentuckians with cutting-edge, 21st century health care. As part of the revamped academic medical campus, UK will construct a new, one million square foot University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital, a new College of Pharmacy, and a new University Health Service (UHS) facility. All three of those projects are currently under way.
His belief that "the campus of the University of Kentucky is the Commonwealth of Kentucky" has inspired President Todd to make community outreach a university priority. In May 2005, UK unveiled the Commonwealth Collaboratives, an initiative that combines the university's research and outreach missions. Featuring 23 research projects led by some of the university's world-class researchers, the Commonwealth Collaboratives are aimed at solving the "Kentucky Uglies," a term President Todd uses to describe conditions that have held Kentucky back for generations. The Collaboratives are designed to have an impact on health care, education, economic development, environmental conditions, and quality of life. In 2008, 13 additional Commonwealth Collaboratives were unveiled.
Under his leadership, UK was awarded a $25 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve math and science education in Eastern Kentucky. He also developed the Health Education through Extension Leadership (HEEL) program, a partnership between the College of Public Health and the College of Agriculture and its Cooperative Extension Service, to deliver valuable health and wellness information throughout the Commonwealth.
UK further cemented its reputation for Cooperative Extension innovation in 2005, when the university became the first land-grant university in the United States to hire a fine arts extension agent, in Pike County. The fine arts agent is expanding and promoting an already thriving arts community while leveraging the potential of the arts to enhance the area's economy. The program has been so successful that the university has expanded the program, adding a fine arts agent in Greenup and Muhlenberg counties.
A native of Earlington, Ky., President Todd earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from UK in 1968 and his master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1970 and 1973, respectively. While at MIT, he received six patents for high-resolution display technology and proposed using telecommunications and high-resolution displays for data conferencing.
He returned to UK in 1974 as an electrical engineering professor where he had an active display devices research program. He won several teaching awards, including the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award. He also served on several university panels, including the University Senate for seven years. He was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus of Kentucky Award in 2002 from the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education.
President Todd also co-founded the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation in 1987, a not-for-profit organization focused on increasing university research capacity, developing science and technology education (K-12) programs, and encouraging an entrepreneurial economy in Kentucky. He served as Chairman of KSTC until 2001. He co-authored the initial proposal that resulted in Kentucky being selected as an EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) state, and he served as Chairman of the EPSCoR board for over 10 years. This program has resulted in bringing millions of dollars in research and development funds from federal and state sources.
President Todd is a member of the National Academies' Committee on Research Universities. He serves as chair of the Advisory Board for the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources Committee. He is immediate past chair of the Board of Directors for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and is presently chair of the APLU Science Math Teacher Imperative (SMTI). He represents the Southeastern Conference as a member of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. President Todd is a member of the Executive Committee of the Business Higher Education Forum. He serves on the EQT Corporation Board of Directors and is chair of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Task Force. He is chair of the National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education’s (NCCI) Leveraging Excellence Award selection panel.
He is married to the former Patricia Brantley, a UK graduate who earned her master's degree from Simmons College in Boston. They have two adult children, UK graduates Troy and Kathryn.
On June 30, 2011, Dr. Lee T. Todd, Jr. resigned as the President of the University of Kentucky. After a leave of absence, Dr. Todd will resume a professorship in the College of Engineering.