LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 11, 2018) — The Martin Luther King Center at the University of Kentucky has been a vital resource providing year-round programs and activities that have focused on the importance of cultural awareness and cross-cultural understanding. The center will soon be moving into a brand new space in the heart of the Gatton Student Center. To find out more about what the new space will offer, we talked to Kahlil Baker, director of the center.
UK: Please describe the new King Center’s physical space in the new Gatton Student Center.
Baker: The new King Center will consist of office space available for the Center’s staff and programming space for student gatherings and events. There will be space also for students to study, congregate and host their own programming.
One of our most important tools will be a state-of-the-art touch-screen smart board. The advanced, interactive technology will allow groups of students to work on academic projects as well as plan events and carry out other tasks. We think it will be a significant tool for the students.
UK: How do you hope students will use the new Center, and how do you think that will enhance a feeling of community?
Baker: The Martin Luther King Center will continue to be what it has always been — a welcoming, safe space for dialogues across identities.
By virtue of its history and its legacy, the King Center has always been a place where everyone — regardless of their race, religion, orientation, politics, whatever characteristic seems to separate us — is welcomed, even celebrated. I don’t see that changing. When we celebrate our uniqueness, I believe we also discover our similarities, the things that bring us together.
We all need a safe place where we are made to feel secure in our welcome. Everyone needs that sense of belonging and safety so that they can grow into their best possible self. Our goal is to provide rich diversity-related experiences for everyone to ensure their success in an interconnected world.
UK: How do you think students will respond to the new space?
Baker: The expectation is that, like a number of locations in the new Gatton Student Center, students will receive the new King Center location as a social hub, a space to connect with co-curricular activities and peer-group interactions that are key to institutional integration.
The hope is that students continue to regularly frequent the King Center, whether it is to engage in programming and initiatives or to utilize the space as an “informal den” within the university’s “new house.”