Campus News

'Behind the Blue': Building diversity and inclusion in UK Purchasing with Barry Swanson and Marilyn Clark

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 22, 2023) — With over 60 employees, University of Kentucky's Purchasing Division handles around $1.4 billion worth of transactions for the entire university community. Barry Swanson, UK’s chief procurement officer, says that number grows as the university grows, and he expects it to surpass $2 billion in just a few more years.

The mission of the Purchasing Division, which includes Central Purchasing, Hospital Purchasing, Construction Purchasing, UK Supply Center and Surplus Property, is to provide service and support, in a legal and professional manner, to purchase quality goods and services at the best value to the university community.

To that end, the university is also committed to serve as an advocate for diverse businesses in their efforts to conduct day-to-day operations, transactions and interactions with UK. Marilyn Clark is UK’s supply diversity manager, and oversees the Diverse Business Enterprises efforts of the department, which consists of businesses that are at least 51% owned and operated by people in the categories of minority, women, disabled, veteran and disabled veteran.

On this episode of "Behind the Blue," Swanson and Clark discuss their roles and responsibilities, the diversity goals they’ve set for a positive community impact, the importance of relationship building and partnerships with small businesses around the state, and more.

"Behind the Blue" is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify. Become a subscriber to receive new episodes of “Behind the Blue” each week. UK’s latest medical breakthroughs, research, artists and writers will be featured, along with the most important news impacting the university.

For questions or comments about this or any other episode of "Behind the Blue," email or tweet your question with #BehindTheBlue. Transcripts for this or other episodes of "Behind the Blue" can be downloaded from the show’s blog page.

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As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.