UK College of Health Sciences celebrates its 50th anniversary

UK College of Health Sciences celebrates its 50th anniversary

The UK College of Health Sciences celebrated its 50th anniversary and honored two individuals, including UK HealthCare’s Dr. Michael Karpf, who have made a difference in the college’s growth in both size and reputation.

In 1966, Congress passed The Allied Health Professions Personnel Training Act to foster the development of “dynamic educational programs … that will attract able students and prepare them for satisfying careers” in the wide array of health care professions beyond medicine, dentistry and nursing.

The UK College of Health Sciences, originally called the College of Allied Health Professions, was one of the first 13 colleges formed as a result of that legislation, with the late Joseph Hamburg serving as its first dean.

The college currently enrolls more than 1,100 students in nine different disciplines such as athletic training, communication sciences and disorders, physical therapy and physician assistant studies.

“For 50 years, the UK College of Health Sciences has educated nearly 8,000 health care professionals who provide outstanding service. Our faculty and alumni are recognized by their peers as top-notch clinicians, educators, researchers and leaders. Our students make us proud with their service, research and academic success. And our staff and supporters provide the essential framework to make these successes possible,” said Dr. Scott M. Lephart, dean of the UK College of Health Sciences. “We’re proud of these achievements, and this was an appropriate opportunity to honor them.”

Two honorees

The college also acknowledged two men whose contributions helped grow the college in both size and stature.

Karpf, the UK executive vice president for health affairs, was the first honoree, receiving the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his leadership in collaborations with the college and others for the benefit of all Kentuckians.

Lephart said Karpf’s leadership in establishing the Kentucky Health Collaborative was a huge factor in his selection for the award. The KHC was launched earlier this year by 10 major health care systems in Kentucky to combat the state’s poor health outcomes by sharing best practices and reducing the costs of care.

Also recognized was Michael P. Thornton, JD, who, along with his family, was given the Philanthropic Appreciation Award for creating the Paul A. Thornton Distinguished Professorship and Fellowship in honor of his father. Dr. Paul A. Thornton was the first director of the Clinical Nutrition program at UK, which became a part of the College of Health Sciences in 1968.

His teaching had a profound effect on many of his students, including Dr. Geza Bruckner, clinical nutrition director and professor and the first Dr. Paul A. Thornton Distinguished Professor recipient.

“It’s a great honor to be awarded this professorship,” Bruckner said. “His influence on his students – including me – was exemplary. Dr. Thornton was truly an educator of the first class, and I’m thrilled to carry on the message he instilled in me as a young student.”

Continuing legacy

Fifty years after its creation, the UK College of Health Sciences continues to innovate in key areas of education, research and service.

The college was one of the first at UK to offer a complete distance learning degree program, educating physical therapy students at the Center of Excellence in Rural Health in Hazard in 1992 and physician assistant students in Morehead in 1996. More recently, the Medical Laboratory Science Program was re-established to educate students at the Center of Excellence in Rural Health in Hazard.

Research is also a fundamental part of the educational experience at the college, as students have the opportunity to be involved in ongoing research projects. The college also maintains a thriving undergraduate research program, which nurtures student curiosity by offering opportunities for mentored, self-directed work.

“The common thread among our programs and our people is our mission,” Lephart said. “We are driven by the desire to help people attain the highest level of health possible. The key is to help unlock the potential for optimal health in each individual we affect, indirectly or directly, through providing patient care, educating future health sciences professionals, and engaging in research aimed at the prevention of injury and disability.”


Next steps:

  • The UK College of Health Sciences promotes research, education and service across nine health care degree programs. Learn more about what we’re doing to improve the health and well-being of people across Kentucky.
  • After more than 13 years of leadership at UK HealthCare, Dr. Michael Karpf announced in September his decision to retire in 2017. Read more about his announcement and highlights from his career at UK.