UK President makes stop at BG Rotary Club; talks enrollment, medical school, vaccines

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 4:18 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - University of Kentucky’s President Eli Capilouto was Wednesday’s guest speaker at the Bowling Green Rotary Club.

Enrollment was one of the many topics he discussed. As universities nationwide are seeing a dip in enrollment, particularly in male enrollment, the University of Kentucky says they are seeing similar trends in gender enrollment; however, Capilouto said they had a record enrollment this year of over 31,000 students.

”We introduced a program called Leeves where we shifted our merit-aid support scholarships and all -- more to needs-based support. We’ve done studies, pilot studies, that showed if we could close that gap from the total cost of attendance, you know, the difference between that and their scholarships, grants and so forth, we did a less than $5,000, their retention and graduation rates start to increase,” said Capilouto.

Western Kentucky University won’t have a final enrollment census number until mid-October, but they do know that their freshman class enrollment was slightly down.

However, spokesperson Jace Lux for WKU says this current freshman class is the strongest class academically with the highest average GPA rate of 3.48, compared to a 3.44 GPA from last year’s incoming freshman class.

WBKO News asked Capilouto if UK would mandate the Covid vaccine in the future. While some students at UK started a petition advocating for mandatory vaccines, the university has stated they will not mandate them at this time.

Nearly 86 percent of the entire campus is vaccinated.

“We’re making incredible progress through the ways that we are encouraging people to make a good choice and be vaccinated. We have incentives. And if you can’t be vaccinated, or you don’t choose to, we test you weekly,” said Capilouto.

According to Capilouto, they have a strategic plan in place for when someone on campus does test positive for Covid.

“If we detect that you are Covid positive, we’re going to immediately wrap services around you, isolate you, quarantine those people who you may have exposed. It’s about stopping the spread of this disease. So vaccines, plus good public health interventions, we can return to that normalcy we all longed for.”

Meanwhile, of those who have reported their vaccination status, 89 percent of WKU’s campus is currently vaccinated.

All members of the WKU community are asked to report Covid vaccination status on the university’s healthy on-the-hill dashboard.

Capilouto also spoke on the accomplishments of the UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus which broke ground in 2017. He said watching that goal come to fruition was one of the top moments in his career.

“One of them -- was the day we broke ground here with our partnership with WKU and the Medical Center and everybody in this community turned up,” he said.

The first class will graduate this upcoming year in 2022. One of the many goals of the school’s location was to educate and train medical professionals in this area and keep them in southcentral Kentucky.

“From everything understand what we hoped is that we would have students who were residents of underserved areas who went to universities in this area, so I heard Western a lot, Murray a lot, who plan to stay in these communities to deliver care. So it was to meet a demand for physicians in shortage areas. And I felt very confident about what I saw today,” expressed Capilouto.

The UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus will accept 30 students per year. For more information, including details on how to apply, visit

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