Campus News

Capilouto: Juneteenth to be UK Holiday

graphic that says Juneteenth; Freedom Day; June 19
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 19, 2020) University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto on Friday announced that starting this coming academic year Juneteenth will be a university holiday.

“June 19th is a celebration of freedom. And it is a reminder that attempts to bring equality to all people have so often been met with opposition,” Capilouto told members of the UK Board of Trustees. “It is our responsibility to make sure we do all that we can to conquer each barrier. I hope it will become a moment to pause, to reflect, and a time that compels our community to act.”

Juneteenth — June 19 — marks the day in 1865 when enslaved Texans learned they were free, the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the old Confederacy. It occurred more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Southern states in the heart of the Civil War.

Capilouto made the announcement Friday following the release of a multi-step action plan to increase the commitment to — and investments in — access and opportunity for Black students and communities of color on the UK campus.

The first phase of the action plan includes:

  • Requiring cultural proficiency training for all faculty and teaching assistants; training on handling race discussions in the classroom; diversity and inclusion training for students prior to the start of the fall semester; and strengthening the diversity curriculum for UK 101.
  • Earmarking funds for greater diversity faculty and staff recruitment.
  • Creating a mini-internship program and developing a student advisory group to increase the pipeline toward careers in higher education.
  • Empaneling a responsible speech committee (evaluate Creed and Code).
  • Conducting a facilities audit as part of the development of a diversity/inclusivity master plan for the campus and creating a “percent for art fund” in which dollars for large capital construction projects would be earmarked to purchase diverse and inclusive art.
  • Building out the development of — and consistency in policies around — diversity and inclusion officers within each UK college.
  • Creating a research alliance — as UK did in response to the coronavirus — to study and develop strategies around the reduction of social and racial injustice and health disparities.

You can read more about the action plan and steps announced here:

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.