A graduate of Trinity High School, Louisville native Ryan Smith is proving his allegiance to the University of Kentucky by serving as student body president and gives us some insight into all the madness that comes with a Wildcats win – or loss.
With all the excitement around the Kentucky Wildcats NCAA tournament success, how has the overall feel on campus been as of late?
Crazy, absolutely crazy. Our campus has been going nuts over the past few weeks, and I love it. All anyone can talk about is the next game. It’s on the mind of every student, faculty and staff member. You can just feel the excitement and energy, and it’s a cool thing to be a part of. I think I realized just how widespread it was once my teachers started encouraging me to wear “jorts.”
What’s so great about it is that traditionally we’ve always been the higher seed and everyone expected us to win it all. What’s been so unique about this year and this group of guys is that we have been the underdog from the beginning. Being the underdog and achieving things others said were improbable or impossible definitely makes it more exciting to be a part of.
Other than basketball, what are some exciting things we can expect from UK?
Well this is a very exciting time to be at UK for a number of reasons. Beginning with the recently approved $20 million in student center renovations, the record number of high achieving students applying to UK, our world-class arts and opera programs and of course our athletic successes, our campus and university is booming.
While we’ve had many things going on at UK over the past year, first and foremost has to be the presidential search. Dr. and Mrs. Todd are amazing people and have been great advocates for our university and state over the past 10 years. They will be greatly missed, and I think I speak for all students in saying that their service and commitment to students will be unmatched.
What sparked your interest in running for student body president?
Well honestly I never thought about running for student body president my freshman or even sophomore year. I got really involved in my fraternity Sigma Chi, which gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of folks involved with different areas of campus.
Also, I became aware of some of the challenges facing UK and our students through Nick Phelps and Tyler Montell who served as student government presidents in previous years. As a result of these experiences, I started to see a variety of ways we could improve not only the university but also the undergraduate and graduate experiences on campus. I got motivated to make a difference, and student body president seemed like the most logical choice in order to see through many of those ideas. Fortunately I found someone who shared that commitment in Kelsey Hayes, and we have been blessed to serve the past two years.
You’re on the search committee for the new UK president, so what can we hope from President Lee Todd’s successor?
I think it’s going to be very difficult to find someone who shares Dr. Todd’s commitment to our state and university. I think we need to find someone with a vision and a demonstrated ability to execute that vision. We need someone who understands the unique qualities that make up our state, but most importantly, we need someone who truly wants to be the president of UK and not just a president of a university. We need someone with the passion and desire not only to move our university forward but also someone with a commitment to Kentucky.
Win or lose, how has this season affected overall campus morale?
Well you know anytime we do well in sports particularly in basketball it has a way of lifting the spirits of those on campus. It makes that meeting a little more bearable, that test a little less stressful and that time studying in the library a little more enjoyable. Knowing that our Cats are doing well is a great thing for campus and just adds a certain level of excitement
What are you looking forward to once March Madness is over?
I don’t think I want it to end. March Madness might be my favorite time of year. Well, maybe Christmas and Thanksgiving, but it definitely ranks up there. As long as the Cats are in contention (or the Cards if we’re not playing each other), I don’t want it to end.
Category: The Spotlight
About the Author (Author Profile)
Voice-Tribune Staff Writer Lauren DePaso enjoys being a tourist in her own city, exploring the nightlife and cheering on the Cards. A Louisville native, she currently resides in St. Matthews.