UK Happenings

Melville Expert Robert K. Wallace to be Honored at UK Libraries Spring Gala

headshot photo of Robert Wallace
Robert Wallace. Photo by Karen Almond.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 18, 2019) The 2019 University of Kentucky Libraries Spring Gala will recognize this year's recipient of the UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement, Northern Kentucky University (NKU) Regents Professor Robert K. Wallace. The gala will take place 6 p.m. Thursday, May 16, in the William T. Young Library on UK’s campus.

Wallace has taught English, literature and art at NKU since 1972. A Herman Melville expert, he is co-founder of the Melville Society Cultural Project at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts, where he curates the art collection of the Melville Society Archive. A past president of the Melville Society, he has lectured on "Moby-Dick" and the arts across the country and around the world. 

A unique aspect of Wallace’s career is that his courses in literature, music and the arts have inspired books on such noted cultural figures as Jane Austen, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Melville, Frank Stella and Frederic Douglass, to name a few. Each book compares a literary author with a musician, an artist or a political activist in a way that has not been done before. The content is a direct outgrowth of the interdisciplinary courses Wallace has been teaching at NKU, most often literature courses that have been cross-listed with the university's honors program. 

The UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement recipient is selected for this prestigious award by majority vote of the UK Libraries National Advisory Board. The award was created in 1990 to recognize Kentuckians who have shown exceptional intellectual achievement and contributed to the lasting value of the Commonwealth. The award also promotes education and creative thought.

The UK Libraries Spring Gala award presentations will begin 6 p.m. A reception will follow with cocktails and heavy hors d'oeuvres. This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested; individuals can RSVP by email to Amanda Jewell at

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 two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. The Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for,”  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 three 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.