Campus News

Former Head of Kentucky Humanities Council to Receive Honorary Doctorate From UK

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 6, 2018) Virginia Carter, who led the Kentucky Humanities Council for more than two decades, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from the University of Kentucky at its December Commencement ceremonies. The UK Board of Trustees approved the recommendation of Carter at its last meeting. UK's honorary degrees pay tribute to those whose life and work exemplify professional, intellectual, or artistic achievement and have made significant contributions to society, the state and the University of Kentucky.

Growing up in Lexington, Carter developed a deep appreciation for nature, the great outdoors and adventure at an early age. After earning a fine arts bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University and an art history master's from UK, Carter taught at the University of Northern Iowa. Later, she returned to UK to earn a master's and doctorate in anthropology.

In 1988, Carter joined the Kentucky's Humanities Council as assistant director and grants officer. One year later, she was named the council's executive director, a position she held until retiring in 2013. Under her leadership the Kentucky Humanities Council flourished and expanded, and its programs touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.

Carter developed the council's popular Kentucky Chatauqua and Chatauqua in the Schools, which bring to life historical figures from Kentucky history. Through more than 70 Chatauqua characters, the programs have presented some 7,000 living-history performances and discussions. Carter helped develop the council’s speakers bureau, providing communities around Kentucky with expert speakers on literature, history, folklore, culture, civics and science. She also worked to solidify the partnership between the Kentucky Humanities Council and the Kentucky Department of Library and Archives that resulted in bringing to Kentucky the federally funded program Prime Time, which has promoted literacy and family reading time in communities throughout the state.

A driving force behind Kentucky's most notable celebration of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday, Carter authored, organized and co-produced “Our Lincoln: Kentucky’s Gift to the Nation,” a musical and theatrical tribute to the Kentucky-born 16th  president. The production was staged in 2008 in Kentucky and in 2009 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where a cast of more than 350 performers received standing ovations.

The University Joint Committee on Honorary Degrees solicits nominations for degrees to be awarded at the May and December Commencements. Nominees chosen by the committee are forwarded to the University Senate for approval by elected faculty senators, and UK Board of Trustees.approval completes the process.