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.

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.