Campus News

Lyman T. Johnson Awards recognize more than 60 alumni, students

The UK Alumni Association Lyman T. Johnson African American Alumni Constituency Group and the Office for Institutional Diversity hosted the awards luncheon as part of the 2022 Lyman T. Johnson Homecoming Celebration.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 14, 2022) — More than 60 alumni and students were honored during the 31st annual Lyman T. Johnson Awards program Friday, Oct. 14 at the Gatton Student Center.  

The University of Kentucky Alumni Association Lyman T. Johnson African American Alumni Constituency Group and the UK Office for Institutional Diversity hosted the awards luncheon as part of the 2022 Lyman T. Johnson Homecoming Celebration. The 2021 ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, leading to a combined ceremony this year. 

UK’s academic colleges and units selected at least one African American alumnus or alumna whose faith, hard work and determination has positively affected the lives of people on the UK campus, the city, state or nation to receive the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence Award. These units additionally chose at least one African American student within the college or department whose academic achievement and ability to impact the lives of others would warrant them to receive the Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer Award. 

In addition, four students earned scholarships through the Lyman T. Johnson Endowed Scholarship Fund, providing financial assistance to students of color in pursuit of higher education. Freshmen Lauren Doucette, of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Joseph Palmer, of Clayton, North Carolina, earned a scholarship for the 2021-2022 academic year. Theatre and arts administration freshman Gabrielle Copeland, of Paducah, Kentucky, and journalism junior Bryson Steed, of Louisville, Kentucky, earned a scholarship for the 2022-2023 academic year. 

Lyman T. Johnson was a pioneer who challenged the status quo in his landmark court case which opened the University of Kentucky to African American students in 1949. He dedicated his life to fighting against segregation and racial inequalities in Kentucky. The Lyman T. Johnson African American Alumni Constituency Group established an endowed scholarship in his name to provide financial assistance to students of color in their pursuit of higher education. 

“Part of what the Lyman T. Johnson alumni group strives to achieve is to continue paving a path for minority students with the creation of the Lyman T. Johnson Scholarship fund,” said Lee Jackson, president of the Lyman T. Johnson African American Alumni Constituency Group. “Since 2008, we have awarded scholarships to deserving students and most recently we have endowed our scholarship to ensure these funds are available for generations to come.”

Antoine Huffman, president of the UK Alumni Association, served as emcee for the event. “The University of Kentucky and the Commonwealth are better today because of the courage demonstrated by Lyman T. Johnson stepping foot on this campus as its first African American student 73 years ago,” said Huffman. “We must never forget his advocacy on behalf of his African American brothers and sisters. May we continue to be advocates for his mission and celebrate the accomplishments, contributions and dreams of the students that have walked on this campus and the alumni that have helped change our world.”

UK President Eli Capilouto and UK Vice President for Institutional Diversity Katrice Albert provided remarks during the luncheon.  

“The Lyman T. Johnson Excellence Awards are a powerful testament to the passion and tenacity with which torchbearers, strategic thinkers and action-oriented visionary leaders uphold Mr. Johnson’s precious legacy,” said Albert. “UK students and alumni continue to advance critical research, uplift and galvanize their communities and light the way on our path toward inclusive excellence. For 31 years, the Lyman T. Johnson Awards have honored those agents of change who left an indelible mark on our campus. We are made by our history. And we are so proud of and grateful for all those who have helped show us the world what is wildly possible with wide open doors.” 

Learn about the Torch of Excellence and Torch Bearer recipients and their vast achievements by visiting

The UK Alumni Association is committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association, visit www.ukalumni.netor call 800-269-2586.

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.