The Power of People and Ideas

Photo of diversity summit
Photo taken by Amanda Nelson at the UK College of Educations's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Symposium last fall

President Capilouto sent the following message to campus on August 6, 2020.

Dear Campus Community,

I’ve been recently reminded a number of times, in so many compelling ways, that fundamentally we are about two things:

People and ideas.

Each day, I get the privilege — even during a time of physical distancing — to witness how powerful we are when people and ideas come together in uncommon ways to achieve a common good.

Earlier today, UK’s College of Education announced a groundbreaking collaboration with the NAACP, the nation’s largest and most preeminent civil rights organization. The idea is to develop an education and research initiative focused on educational equity, civil rights and social justice.

More to the point, it’s the notion that the power of partnership will enable us to take the most creative minds and research and translate that into solutions — particularly with respect to advancing and protecting education for all students in pre-school through higher education, with an emphasis on race-based discrimination.

As College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig said of this new initiative, “Having a civil rights and education initiative at the University of Kentucky, where we have been on a year-long examination of our painful history of segregation, is especially meaningful. It speaks to how far we have come, and yet how much further we need to go. It is an important step for the university to take a leadership role in ensuring all students, locally and nationally, have access to a high quality education where they feel safe and supported.”

You can read more about this landmark initiative here:

That idea — that we have made progress, but still have further to go and much more to do — is the basis for another step in our efforts around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Today, I’m also announcing that in the near future, senior administrators will undergo anti-racist training as a first step in UK’s campus-wide initiative to change our culture as a community united against systemic racism.

The training will be led by Candice Hargons, a professor in our College of Education. Professor Hargons is a counseling psychologist with a national reputation in the field of anti-racism training. You can read more about this initiative and how we hope to expand this effort here:

As Professor Hargons noted of this kind of work: “Dismantling systemic racism is not overnight work, so we are preparing leaders for the long game. We’re showing them how to develop grit.”

Grit, along with a sense of grace for ourselves and each other, is how we will make progress in the most important and historic of efforts at UK.

Yes, we have made important progress. And, without question, we still have so much to do.

But we are laying an important and durable foundation for lasting change — on our campus and in the world we seek to make better each day.

Eli Capilouto