President Capilouto sent the following message to the UK campus on July 22, 2020.
Dear Campus Community,
As a globally engaged public research university, UK welcomes students and scholars from around the world.
We know that the distinct knowledge, experience, skills and fresh ideas they bring greatly enrich our campus. The work we do in our labs, classrooms and clinics is strengthened by this diversity and we are proud of our international students and colleagues.
You are probably aware that our faculty, scholars and students from China are currently facing particular stresses.
Our colleagues, students and family members from China are, understandably, feeling anxious given the issues and concerns being raised — from ongoing national security concerns related to foreign government influences in academic research, to actual and rumored changes in U.S. immigration policies and the regrettable, rising anti-China sentiment in the face of COVID-19.
Concerns from the U.S. Government about foreign entities seeking to influence research, divert intellectual property and share confidential information are changing the regulatory landscape across U.S. academic institutions.
As the land-grant, research intensive institution of the Commonwealth, we must carefully attend to the issues at hand, and comply with reporting requirements. But it is important that we do so while continuing to welcome, engage and respect all international students, employees and visitors.
No one should feel they are being regarded with suspicion or excluded from a project based on their national origin. You can find out more about UK’s commitment to research integrity here.
Further, the shifting immigration policy landscape — especially Executive Orders restricting entry to the U.S. for certain Chinese students and researchers and restricting some H1B and J visas — has caused concern as well.
We continue to monitor developments in this area and the UK International Center will regularly update the FAQs posted here.
At the same time, COVID-19 has helped foster some negative reactions that have stigmatized and targeted certain groups, including those presumed to be Chinese. We must all recognize the deep hurt and harm this can create for those who are targeted in this way, and we must all recognize how discriminatory actions hurt UK as a whole.
So, it is on each of us to speak out and stand up if we witness any such behavior by reporting any such incidents to the Office of Institution Equity and Equal Opportunity.
The relationship between the U.S. and China is a long and complicated one. It is also, without doubt, a key relationship for the world as a whole. The current phase of U.S.-China relations is strained, and universities are, of course, impacted.
We will navigate these choppy waters with our sights set on our core principles, and in the knowledge that as we reinvent our campus, our community must be an inclusive one.
We will continue to strive to make our campus a safe and welcoming one for all our international students, faculty and scholars.
We will continue to be fair in our implementation of measures designed to ensure the proper conduct of research and disclosure of conflicts of interest and commitment. And we will keep a close eye on policy developments, while steadfastly supporting our international students, faculty and scholars through the regulatory uncertainty.
We must — and we will — remain focused on being a globally engaged, diverse and accepting research university.