Campus News

UK's Office for Institutional Diversity to Host Panel Discussion on COVID-19, Health Inequalities and the Black Community


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 24, 2020) — In a response to the challenges being brought by the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Kentucky Office for Institutional Diversity (OID) will host a virtual panel discussion, titled “Outside the Margins: COVID-19, Health Inequalities and the Black Community,” from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, to examine the broad economic and health impacts that the novel coronavirus has on the African American community. 

"This very important and timely panel discussion is one of several crucial ways that UK OID — along with our campus partners — continues to further engage our students, faculty, staff and broader community in reflection about how diverse backgrounds and identities have experiences and realities that adversely impact their quality of life," said Sonja Feist-Price, vice president for institutional diversity. "Earlier in April we highlighted the negative impact that stereotyping is having on many Asian and Asian American members of our UK family. This conversation continues to examine unique struggles related to this virus in the lives of African Americans on campus and around the Commonwealth, realizing that this is a national crisis."

Despite the precautionary measures society has taken, the current global pandemic has had a disproportionate toll on black communities. According to recent preliminary nationwide data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30% of Covid-19 patients are African American, although African Americans make up only 13% of the population of the United States. 

The striking overrepresentation of African Americans among confirmed Covid-19 cases is one example of the glaring inequalities that define everyday life for many Americans. 

“Our OID teams and partners across campus believe this will be an important way for members of our university community to engage in critical dialogue about the disparate impact that COVID-19 is having in black communities around the country, connecting these disparities to this particular moment and larger historical inequalities,” said Lance Poston, executive director of inclusive health and campus partnerships.

Validating some of the long-standing challenges experienced by people of color and other underrepresented groups in the health care system, the discussion will bring together experts from around the Commonwealth to discuss the current crisis and explore how to protect communities outside of the margins.

Panelists include Rebecca Dutch, professor in the UK College of Medicine; Anita Fernander, associate professor of behavioral science in the UK College of Medicine; V. Faye Jones, associate vice president for health affairs/diversity initiatives at the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center; and Vivian Lasley-Bibbs, director of the Kentucky Department of Public Health. The panel will be moderated by Trenika Mitchell, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion in the UK College of Pharmacy.

The discussion will be streamed live via Zoom, to register, click here.

To stay up to date on the latest campus messages surrounding UK COVID-19, click here.


UK is home to some of the world’s most renowned thought leaders, and they stand ready to answer pressing questions. From epidemiology and virology to constitutional law and political science — faculty and staff expertise spans a broad range of newsworthy topics. Through a comprehensive database, the UK Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications is working to quickly connect those experts to statewide, regional, national and international media outlets.

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.