Kentucky State University receives $7 million grant for agriculture research network

Republished from Kentucky Lantern


FRANKFORT — Kentucky State University has been awarded a $7 million grant from the National Science Foundation for an agricultural research incubator that has partners across the state.

With the dollars, KSU plans to establish a statewide research network that focuses on agriculture, climate change and access to fresh food called Driving AgTech Research and Education in Kentucky (DARE-KY). Other partners on the project include the University of Pikeville, Bluegrass Community and Technology College, Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation and FoodChain Inc. The project will focus on soil-less food systems for more sustainable agriculture. 

KSU President Koffi Akakpo said the grant was a historic announcement for the university. 

“This project emphasizes impact — the impact on the commonwealth by Kentucky State University and partners, the impact on the economy, on education and on the future,” Akakpo said. “I could not be more proud.”

Representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. James Comer attended a ceremony on campus Thursday afternoon. Frankfort and Franklin County officials, Education and Labor Cabinet personnel and state lawmakers were also present. 

The Kentucky General Assembly set aside $60 million for KSU to use for campus maintenance and repairs in legislation earlier this year, along with $5 million for the design of a health science education building. Two years ago, legislators passed a law to give KSU $23 million to offset budget shortfalls and required the Council on Postsecondary Education to oversee a management improvement plan. 

While the university has faced numerous controversies in recent years, such as an accreditation warning and misused funds under a previous administration, current officials told lawmakers earlier this month KSU has completed 53 of its 130 improvement plan objectives

CPE President Aaron Thompson said Thursday that the NSF grant is “the kind of grant that gives you the base to build on other possibilities and outcomes.” He said such achievement signaled more good things to come. 

“We will get the enrollment. We will have the student success,” Thompson said during the ceremony.” We will have the innovative programming and we will have many more of these.”

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