With about eight weeks left in this semester, the university is not slowing down its efforts to create a more inclusive, equitable campus.
In this work, I have the honor and privilege of overseeing our comprehensive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Implementation Plan as the interim vice president for institutional diversity and now as the senior adviser to President Capilouto.
My role as an adviser is a new position, resulting from a reorganization of the president’s senior administration to better represent our community and the individuals we serve.
My love for this work extends from my deep love for reading, which ultimately became the foundation for my education. I started UK as an undergraduate student interested in French history, but was introduced shortly after to the topics of slavery and race in my first general American history class.
From that point, I knew this work would allow me to investigate further an issue so contradictory to what this country was founded upon: freedom.
As a teacher, my wish for my students was that they understood slavery as a worldwide establishment, rather than an institution that existed only in the South.
Now, as an administrator, my wish is for our institution to challenge ourselves to talk about the issues of diversity and inclusion as a part of everything that we do at the University of Kentucky.
We must, as a community, engage in dialogue about why diversity is important, especially against the backdrop of our imperfect history.
My goal has been—and always will be—to provide our community with a better understanding of slavery and the impacts of the institution as a whole in the United States and around the world.
We must always find a way to have important conversations such as these. And, in this context, we need to provide a safe environment for all members of our community so that they can speak freely, all while using language to promote community, rather than divide it.
Like so many, this special place has given me opportunities and, importantly, encouragement—something that not every student is lucky enough to receive, but that we must work toward as an institution.
I hope to be part of a legacy for UK that we are working collectively to establish as a place that gives all of our students this same encouragement and sense of belonging and acceptance.
Although our work is never finished, I believe the important steps we take now have the ability to transcend each of us and mark a new beginning for this institution.
You can learn more about our efforts to create that community at: https://www.uky.edu/president/diversity-equity-and-inclusion.