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Dr. Eli Capilouto - President of the University of Kentucky

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

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At United Way of the Bluegrass (UWBG), we are currently celebrating our centennial year, highlighting 100 Heroes who have been important in our fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of our neighbors over the past century.

We recently spoke with Dr. Eli Capilouto, University of Kentucky’s current President, to learn more about his role and relationship with United Way of the Bluegrass.

What is your role with the UWBG - UK partnership?

As president of the University of Kentucky, I always am inspired by the compassion and sense of service that distinguish this community. Each year, I send communication to faculty and staff announcing the UK campaign and encouraging them to channel that sense of service through support for United Way and its critical mission. The partnership between UK and UWBG is incredibly special because it brings together two of our community’s most influential organizations in a joint effort to improve the lives of our people.

How is the University of Kentucky related to United Way of the Bluegrass? How did that partnership originate?

The University of Kentucky has partnered with United Way for many years. It’s a relationship that started well before my time here. UK is consistently one of the top employee-driven contributors for United Way of the Bluegrass – as we should be. This reflects our commitment to the commonwealth and our role as the University for Kentucky.

What is your favorite project that you have worked on with United Way of the Bluegrass or that you have seen UWBG work on?

I think I am most excited about the concept of the Waypoint Centers. Each of these centers provides unique services that are tailored to its neighborhood and are staffed by professionals who know and work with the community. Dozens of people from across our campus are supporting the work of these centers.

If you were encouraging someone to get involved with United Way of the Bluegrass, what would you encourage them to do or what advice would you give them?

United Way gives supporters and volunteers the opportunity for hands-on service. From financial to social services, United Way connects people. Their partnerships with community agencies leverage resources to best support those in need and build stable and connected families. Supporters and volunteers see the positive change and support United Way brings to families; that makes it easy to get involved.

Fun Questions:

What is your favorite place and thing to do in the Bluegrass?

I always enjoy watching our UK student athletes compete. Athletics events bring together our community in a spirit of comradery and shared purpose. The pandemic brought into stark relief the importance of gathering with loved ones and building community, as we often do through athletics. I’m grateful that our high vaccination percentage and other safety protocols allow us to celebrate our athletics in person once again.

If you were trying to convince someone to move to the Bluegrass area, how would you convince them?

I would tell them that Kentucky is a special place — a community of individuals dedicated to uplifting each other. I often refer to our university as a family, and I believe that family extends beyond our campus to our local community and all 120 counties throughout Kentucky where we have a presence. At UK, we believe that powerful change is possible when people of all different backgrounds, experiences and passions are united with uncommon resolve toward a common purpose. Kentucky embraces that spirit and that sense of community.

Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Eli! We appreciate you and all that you've done and continue to do.

"The partnership between the University of Kentucky and United Way of the Bluegrass is incredibly special because it brings together two of our community's most influential organizations in a joint effort to improve the lives of our people." ~ Dr. Eli Capilouto
To learn more about how we are continuing to serve the Bluegrass in 2022, click here.
Do you know someone who has worked alongside United Way of the Bluegrass in the past century who should be considered for our 100 Heroes series? Please email us at to share your nomination!

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