Campus News

Our Next Steps Toward a More Just and Equitable Campus

Photo of two female students in COVID-19 protective masks walking on campus
Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2020)  University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto sent the following email to all faculty, staff and students Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Dear Campus Community,

Our goal is to change a culture. Changing a culture requires the sustained commitment of an entire community. And that starts with people.

Today, I am pleased to announce an important step in our process of becoming a more diverse and inclusive community that is equitable and just.

A 22-member leadership team — with student, faculty and staff representatives of more than 10 colleges and several units — will help guide our efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion.  

The team, which will report directly to me, will be led by Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity George Wright. You can read the list of this exemplary leadership team here. We will be adding a community member soon as well.

In addition, a 10-member workgroup has been established and is meeting multiple times a week, to help facilitate the collective work of this cultural change. The members of the workgroup can be found here. The workgroup already is focused on assigning executive sponsors to six major workstreams that revolve around areas such as faculty, staff and student talent; culture, policies and programming; facilities and finances; research and community outreach.

From there, we will build out project-based work teams. The work teams will comprise students, faculty and staff from across our campus, all who have volunteered time and talents to this initiative. These work team projects span a facilities master plan centered on diversity, equity and inclusion, anti-racism training for faculty, staff and students, responsible speech and ensuring a more diverse pipeline for faculty, staff and students, among others.

You can view a graphic depiction of the process here.

As a campus, we will count on these outstanding members of our community to construct a creative and collaborative cultural shift unlike any other undertaken at this institution. We must not simply have more people around the table, lending their voices to the effort. In some important ways, we must build a new table, one with places for everyone, where access and opportunity are afforded equally.

We have designed a process like this one because we know that systemic racism — the project of not simply opposing racism but being understood as anti-racist — must begin now but continue for weeks, months and years to come.

Over time, people will continue to join this effort. More projects and initiatives likely will be added. We do not start by thinking we have all the answers; we have people committed to change and we believe that commitment can make a difference.

At the same time, even as we are committed to ongoing dialogue and inclusion, changes that we know must be made cannot and should not wait.

To that end, over the next several days, the university will make a number of announcements regarding substantive action steps that will underscore our commitment to equity and complement the process we have initiated. We will be:

  • Announcing a major investment in research around issues of equity, disparities, and justice.
  • Examining how we can ensure our efforts around public safety can be even more diverse and representative of our community.
  • Meeting with community leaders to develop plans and goals around more diverse business partners that will strengthen our economy.
  • Unveiling ways that more inclusive voices will join our leadership team at UK.
  • Announcing anti-racism training for members of our community.

Where there are gaps we know we can fill, we must close them. Where there are opportunities that can be seized immediately, we must take them. And where there are places where equality of access and opportunity have been denied or deferred, we must not delay.

This is our moment.

We must move now to seize it.

Thank you for your willingness to be a community that meets the moment.

Eli

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" 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 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.