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Seamus Carey

Seamus Carey

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Seamus Carey

Renee speaks with Dr. Seamus Carey, president of Transylvania University, about the school's history and mission and the value of a liberal arts education.
S14 E17 Length 26:57 Premiere: 1.25.19

Transylvania University President Seamus Carey

A dozen years before Kentucky became a state, students gathered at the newly chartered Transylvania Seminary to pursue studies in religion, arts and sciences, law, and medicine. As the first college west of the Allegheny Mountains, Transylvania established a reputation as a place for high-quality education on the western frontier, training those who would go on to be U.S. vice presidents and senators, governors, and ambassadors.

Now, more than 230 years later, Lexington’s Transylvania University continues to gather accolades as one of the best four-year colleges in the country. It’s also a school that remains steadfast in its commitment to liberal arts education at a time when many universities emphasize preparing students for a specific job in today’s market.

“I look at liberal arts education as not just about workforce development or developing workforce skills,” says Transylvania President Seamus Carey. “I think liberal arts education has always done that, but liberal arts education is also about building a life.”

Carey appeared on KET’s Connections to discuss the value of liberal arts studies and his leadership of Transylvania as the school’s 26th president.

Although Transylvania is a private college, it doesn’t just cater to the children of wealthy families. Carey says a fifth of the school’s nearly 1,000 students are eligible for needs-based federal financial aid, and almost all students at Transylvania receive some kind of assistance.

Still, Transylvania loses many prospective students to its cross-town competitor, the University of Kentucky, according to Carey.

“If you’re an in-state, Kentucky student, [UK] is a great value,” he says. “However I think we are as well, for different reasons.”

Carey says 70 percent of Transylvania students graduate in four years, so they’re not accruing additional debt by taking five or six years to complete a degree. He says the average graduate leaves Transylvania with about $22,000 in debt. Only 2 percent of his graduates will default on those loans, says Carey, compared to the national average of 11 percent. For graduates in Kentucky, he says the default rate is 15 percent.

“What that tells us is that our students are not only getting out of Transylvania and getting jobs, they’re getting good jobs and they’re able to pay back their loans,” he says.

Carey attributes that post-graduation success to the work his faculty does with students, and to a mentoring program that pairs school alumni in Lexington with young students just getting started at Transylvania. Those mentors help the students explore career opportunities and networking options in their chosen field of study.

“I want our students to pursue things they’re interested in because if they do that, they’re going to be better at it,” Carey says. “They’re going to be better students, they’re going to get better grades, they’re going to open up things that they might not even have imagined of when they came to college.”

The Value of a Liberal Arts Education
Success in today’s workforce doesn’t come only from a science or technical degree, according to Carey. He still firmly believes in the benefits of a liberal arts education.

“The idea that liberal arts colleges are not a good value is sometimes, I think, taken too far,” says Carey. “It is expensive in a lot of instances, but you’re getting a different sort of education.”

Liberal arts training, says Carey, gives students the tools to make better decisions in a multitude of life situations. He contends the current trend to encourage younger and younger children towards a specific workforce opportunity can smother creative thinking in students and harm the social fabric of the nation.

“The exposure I want to give is to what’s inside a person,” says Carey. “That exposure comes through the imagination that’s in dialogue with literature and poetry and science… To me that’s where the American creativity and the American spirit has always come from.”

In fact, Carey says that what he views as a current lack of respectful civic discourse has been caused in part from a devaluation of higher education. He says education shouldn’t be a partisan issue, even though some politicians and pundits try to make it into one.

“It’s hard to have a successful, flourishing democracy without an informed citizenry,” Carey says.

A Beacon for Civility
Carey himself is a prime example of how life-changing a liberal arts education can be. The son of Irish immigrants, Carey grew up playing basketball on the streets of the Bronx.

“That was a fun, competitive time,” he recalls. “There were no referees, there were no parents, and there were no arguments… If you fouled somebody, you gave them the ball.”

A first-generation college student, Carey was on track to become a New York City firefighter. But near the end of his undergraduate studies at Vassar College, where he majored in economics, he realized his true passion was philosophy. He got his master’s degree and Ph.D. and then served as a philosophy professor for nine years at Manhattan College, before becoming a dean at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. A leadership-training program connected him with Transylvania, and Carey was hired as president in 2014.

“It was a little nerve-wracking coming from New York to a small city,” he says, “but I’ve really fallen in love with a lot of the people here and certainly our school. I love our school.”

As Carey moves into his fifth year in Lexington, he wants to continue to build diversity on campus. About 20 percent of students are persons of color, and he says there’s still work to do in diversifying the faculty and staff. Carey has also shepherded several construction and renovation projects on campus to make dorms and academic buildings places that foster interactions among students and with faculty.

One avenue Transylvania won’t pursue, according to Carey, is to offer courses and degrees online. He says those programs only become economically viable when they are offered on a large scale.

“We’re just not situated to do that,” says Carey. “The value of our education is in the face-to-face, personal relationship and the dialogue between the faculty and the student… So we want to be really good at what we do and control the costs as best we can, and I think we’ve been doing a reasonably good job at doing that.”

This academic year, Transylvania launched a campus-wide civility initiative. The school has hosted a range of speakers, workshops, and cultural activities around the theme of civility. The effort will culminate in late March with a speech by best-selling author Salman Rushdie.

Carey says he wants Transylvania to be a “beacon of light” around the idea of civility. He says public discourse these days too often focuses on somebody being right, instead of being open to understanding and learning about the views of someone else.

“And in order to learn, you have to have an element of humility because you have to acknowledge that you don’t know yet what you have to set out to learn,” he says.

“If a society is going to evolve and get better, learning has to take place,” says Carey. “I think college campuses are models of that and so we try to demonstrate that on a regular basis.”

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Connections

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Each week, host Renee Shaw and a variety of interesting and engaging people - including business leaders, entertainers, authors, celebrities, and more - explore a broad array of topics impacting Kentucky and the world.

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Josh Nadzam and Tanya Torp - S10 E37

Renee speaks with community activist Josh Nadzam, a former University of Kentucky track athlete, who in 2014 ran from Lexington to Frankfort to raise awareness for domestic partner violence. Then, Renee talks with Tanya Torp, program director of Step by Step, a non-profit organization that improves the lives of young single moms and their children through support, encouragement, faith, and education.

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Cathy Zion - Zion Publications LLC - S10 E38

Cathy Zion became owner and publisher of Zion Publications in 1996, after a long career in banking. Her company publishes Today's Woman, and added new magazines, Today's Transitions and Today's Family.

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Gigi Butler - Gigi's Cupcakes - S10 E39

Gigi Butler opened her first Gigi's Cupcakes location just off of music row in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008 and in six short years, with 98 locations and counting, Gigi's is now the largest cupcake franchise in the world.

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Cathe Dykstra - Family Scholar House - S10 E41

Cathe Dykstra, chief possibility officer, president & CEO of Family Scholar House, discusses the Louisville organization and its impact on families and communities. Family Scholar House's mission is to end the cycle of poverty by providing housing and educational support to single-parent students and their families.

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Pastor Edward Palmer - Racial Bias and Juvenile Justice Reform - S15 E2

Pastor Edward Palmer works to eliminate disproportionate minority contact within the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. He talks about Kentucky's juvenile justice reform efforts, how he's working with justice officials in addressing racial biases, and more. Pastor Palmer is a certified diversity trainer and the current chair of the National Coalition for Juvenile Justice. He is also serving his fifth term as a Radcliff city councilman.

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Infant Nutrition and Breastfeeding - S10 E42

Renee and her guests discuss the health benefits of breastfeeding in recognition of national breastfeeding week, as well as provide tips on proper infant nutrition. Scheduled guests include: Doraine Bailey, MA, IBCLC, Breastfeeding Support Services with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Dept.; Ana Maria Linares, an associate professor in the UK College of Nursing and a Lactation Consultant who has conducted research on attitudes and practices around breastfeeding among Latinas in Lexington; and Nicole Peritore, program coordinator for the Health Education through Extension Leadership (HEEL) Office at the University of Kentucky.

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Andre Taylor - S10 E43

Andre Taylor has a distinguished 35-year career, building and advising businesses. He's the author of You Can Still Win! and a half-dozen other books, a frequent guest expert on ABC News, and an international authority on winning and leadership. Mr. Taylor was a speaker at the 13th Annual Lexington Bluegrass Area Minority Business Expo.

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JoAnne Wheeler Bland - S10 E44

Renee talks with transgender activist JoAnne Wheeler Bland, who in her sixties transitioned from male to female. A practicing attorney for more than 40 years, she is a former Special Justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court, former Vice-President of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, current member of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education's Committee on Equal Opportunity (the Diversity Committee), and guest speaker at Women's and Gender Studies programs at Kentucky universities.

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Faith Politics - S10 E45

Renee and her guests talk about the role of religion in politics and public policy decision-making. Guests: Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, pastor of New Union Christian Church, and Rev. D. Anthony Everett, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church.

  • Thursday April 23, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kinship Care - S10 E46

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Colene Elridge - S14 E23

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  • Sunday April 26, 2020 12:00 pm ET on KET
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Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk - S11 E2

Renee speaks with new Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent, Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk. Caulk was previously superintendent of Portland Public Schools, Maine's largest school district. His experience includes working as a special education teacher in a juvenile detention facility, an elementary principal, and a high school principal. He was also a former assistant prosecutor for the state of New Jersey.

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The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia - Gerald Smith - S11 E3

Renee's guest is Dr. Gerald Smith, an author and history professor at the University of Kentucky, and co-editor of The Kentucky African-American Encyclopedia: Life and Culture in the Commonwealth. The reference book contains entries on the individuals, events, places, organizations, movements, and institutions that helped shape the state's history and cultural diversity.

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Kellie Blair Hardt - S11 E5

Renee speaks with special education teacher Kellie Blair Hardt, who overcame homelessness, an absent mother, an alcoholic father and school expulsion to earn her GED. She received the National Education Association Foundation's 2013 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence as one of the nation's top educators. Hardt is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education at George Mason University. She was featured in KET's series Dropping Back In.

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Jacinda Townsend - S11 E6

Author Jacinda Townsend discusses her critically acclaimed novel, Saint Monkey, a coming-of-age story set in 1950's Eastern Kentucky. The book won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction. Townsend is a former Hurston-Wright Award finalist and currently teaches creative writing at Indiana University.

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Connections - S15 E30

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Dorothy Gilliam - S11 E7

Renee speaks with journalist Dorothy Gilliam, who was the first African-American female reporter at The Washington Post. She retired in 2003 after a 35-year career with the paper.

  • Monday May 4, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Allison Joseph - S11 E8

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Ari Berman - S11 E9

Renee's guest is Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute. He has written extensively about American politics, civil rights and the intersection of money and politics. The title of his new book is Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.

  • Wednesday May 6, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Miss Kentucky Clark Davis - S11 E10

Renee speaks with Miss Kentucky Clark Davis, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky majoring in vocal performance, with a minor in political science. Davis was diagnosed with dyslexia in elementary school. Her pageant platform is dyslexia awareness.

  • Thursday May 7, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Former Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear - S11 E11

Renee speaks with Jane Beshear, former first lady of Kentucky, about her policy initiatives and programs during her time in the Governor's Mansion.

  • Friday May 8, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kendell Nash - ECHO - S10 E27

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Dorothy Edwards and Diane Fleet - S10 E26

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Elaine Chao - S10 E23

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Diabetes Epidemic - S10 E20

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  • Monday March 30, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 30, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 30, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY

Mary Gwen Wheeler, 55,000 Degrees - S10 E16

  • Friday March 27, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 27, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 27, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 27, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 27, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 27, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

15K Degrees Initiative - S10 E13

  • Thursday March 26, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 26, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday March 26, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 26, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sister Helen Prejean - S10 E12

  • Wednesday March 25, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 25, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 25, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 25, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court - S10 E11

  • Tuesday March 24, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 24, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 24, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 24, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 24, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 24, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Debbie Millman - S10 E10

  • Sunday March 29, 2020 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 29, 2020 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 23, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 23, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 23, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 23, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

UK College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig - S15 E24

  • Saturday March 28, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday March 28, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 25, 2020 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday March 25, 2020 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday March 25, 2020 6:03 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday March 25, 2020 5:03 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday March 22, 2020 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday March 22, 2020 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday March 22, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 22, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 22, 2020 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday March 22, 2020 11:00 am CT on KET
  • Sunday March 22, 2020 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 22, 2020 7:00 am CT on KETKY

Diane Follingstad - UK Women's Circle Endowment Chair - S10 E6

  • Friday March 20, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 20, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 20, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 20, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kevin Chapman - S10 E5

  • Thursday March 19, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 19, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday March 19, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 19, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Soreyda Benedit Begley and Chris Begley - S10 E3

  • Wednesday March 18, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 18, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 18, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 18, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bloggers on Personal Development - S10 E2

  • Tuesday March 17, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 17, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 17, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 17, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Chris Rabb - S10 E1

  • Monday March 16, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 16, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 16, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 16, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 16, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 16, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball; McLeod's Coffee House - S15 E23

  • Saturday March 21, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday March 21, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 18, 2020 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday March 18, 2020 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday March 15, 2020 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday March 15, 2020 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday March 15, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 15, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 15, 2020 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday March 15, 2020 11:00 am CT on KET
  • Sunday March 15, 2020 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 15, 2020 7:00 am CT on KETKY

Tanya Torp and Holly Houston - S9 E46

  • Friday March 13, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 13, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 13, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 13, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 13, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 13, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Frontier Nursing University - S9 E45

  • Thursday March 12, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 12, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday March 12, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 12, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

SWAG - Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun Violence - S9 E44

  • Wednesday March 11, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 11, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 11, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 11, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Marta Miranda - S9 E43

  • Tuesday March 10, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 10, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 10, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 10, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Judi Jennings - S9 E42

  • Monday March 9, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 9, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 9, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 9, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Inclusivity in Fashion - Frankie Lewis; RaeShanda Johnson - S15 E13

  • Saturday March 14, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday March 14, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 11, 2020 5:59 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday March 11, 2020 4:59 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday March 8, 2020 4:29 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 8, 2020 3:29 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 8, 2020 7:59 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 8, 2020 6:59 am CT on KETKY

Alice Allison Dunnigan - Pioneering Journalist - S15 E9

  • Sunday April 5, 2020 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday April 5, 2020 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday April 4, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 1, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 1, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 1, 2020 6:16 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday April 1, 2020 5:16 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday April 1, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 1, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 30, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 30, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 29, 2020 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday March 29, 2020 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday March 29, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 29, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 29, 2020 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday March 29, 2020 11:00 am CT on KET
  • Saturday March 7, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday March 7, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
Top

Season 14

The 'I Was Here' Project

S14 E36 Length 27:42 Premiere Date 8.4.19

Mike Runyon and Sherita Miller; Wendy Kobler

S14 E35 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 7.28.19

Filmmaker Lynn Novik

S14 E33 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 7.14.19

Brent Hutchinson; Christine Thompson - Education

S14 E32 Length 27:37 Premiere Date 7.7.19

Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton - Youth Mental Health

S14 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.2.19

Julie Cerel - Youth Suicide Prevention

S14 E29 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 5.19.19

Dale Suttles - Sunrise Children's Services

S14 E28 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 5.12.19

Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky

S14 E27 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 5.5.19

Joshua A. Douglas - Voting Rights Reform

S14 E25 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 4.21.19

Jay Box - Ky. Community & Technical College System

S14 E24 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 4.14.19

Author and Life Coach Colene Elridge

S14 E23 Length 26:19 Premiere Date 4.7.19

FIRST STEP Act - Criminal Justice Reform

S14 E22 Length 27:44 Premiere Date 3.31.19

Cheryl A. Oldham

S14 E21 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 2.22.19

Linda Hampton - Early Childhood

S14 E20 Length 29:47 Premiere Date 2.15.19

Donald Mason

S14 E19 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 2.8.19

Community Action Council; First 5 Lex

S14 E18 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 2.1.19

Seamus Carey

S14 E17 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 1.25.19

Michael Benson

S14 E16 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 1.18.19

Dr. Aaron Thompson

S14 E14 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 1.11.19

Mary Todd Lincoln and Lincoln Lexington Walking Tour

S14 E13 Length 28:55 Premiere Date 12.14.18

Youth Suicide

S14 E12 Length 29:22 Premiere Date 12.7.18

Jean Schumm and Amanda Gale

S14 E11 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11.16.18

M. Christopher Brown II

S14 E10 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 11.9.18

Frank Harris

S14 E9 Length 25:17 Premiere Date 11.2.18

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

S14 E8 Length 29:16 Premiere Date 10.26.18

Amy McGrath

S14 E7 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 10.19.18

Kevin Chapman - Youth Mental Health

S14 E6 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 10.12.18

Carol Cecil; Resa Gonzalez - Youth Mental Health

S14 E5 Length 26:03 Premiere Date 10.5.18

Joe Bargione - Youth Mental Health

S14 E4 Length 28:57 Premiere Date 9.28.18

WKU President Timothy Caboni

S14 E3 Length 28:40 Premiere Date 9.21.18

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi

S14 E1 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 9.14.18

Explore KET