Campus News

UK Details Progress on Diversity Initiatives; Campus Art Will Reflect University’s Commitment

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 19, 2021) — In response to social injustices — both past and present — the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Implementation Plan was created to focus on actionable steps in the University of Kentucky’s DEI efforts. 

Over the last eight months, more than 600 members of the campus community participated in workstreams around diverse areas and needs across the campus. It was as massive and comprehensive a process as any ever undertaken at UK.

Reflecting the comprehensive nature of the work, the university identified six broad workstreams — for faculty and staff; students; culture, policies and programming; facilities and finances; research; and community outreach — that will oversee the work of 17 project teams. Those distinct efforts range from expanding professional development opportunities, to creating a diversity and inclusivity master plan.

Among the 17 project teams is Project 13, focused on creating an art fund for capital projects. The establishment of a DEI Public Art Fund is a strong commitment by the university to incorporate diverse and inclusive public art on campus.

“Art speaks to the heart and soul,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “Through powerful and moving images, it speaks to who we are, where we fall short and who we aspire to be. There is no more compelling way to underscore our commitment to a more diverse, just and equitable community than through the art we display.”

Led by Melody Flowers, executive director for strategic analysis and policy, Project 13 will assign the role of “curator” for UK’s public art and establish a standing DEI Public Art Committee to provide the board input and support necessary for a successful university-wide public art initiative.

Here are details of the project:

  • The fund established will purchase or commission diverse and inclusive public art for campus through a 1% allocation from capital projects of $1 million or more (up to a maximum of $1,000,000 per project).
  • The team will create and document the process, procedures and rules for utilizing the fund, and will work with capital project owners (the departments or units funding the capital project) to select and install art appropriate to the project and zone/district of campus and in alignment with an intentional diversity and inclusivity plan for campus.
  • The team will also consider and make recommendations about potential further opportunities to support and enhance diverse and inclusive art on campus to fully leverage the power of art to shape impactful spaces and places and create intentional communities of belonging.

“The commitment of Project 13, along with so many additional people across the campus, underscores both the importance of the work and the sense of urgency brought to it,” Flowers said. “The university has made tremendous progress in recent years; however, as a university, we have much more work to do in becoming an institution that is inclusive in everything we do.”

You can find a complete listing of the project leads underneath each workstream and each project’s formal charge 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 four 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" three 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 five 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.