Campus News

INSIGHT Into Diversity Names UK 2021 HEED Award Recipient, Diversity Champion

photo of students on campus
Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 17, 2021) — For the fifth year in a row, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, has recognized the University of Kentucky as both a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award recipient and a Diversity Champion.

As a recipient of the annual HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — UK is featured, along with 100 other recipients, in the November 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

INSIGHT Into Diversity also recognizes selected institutions — those that rank in the top tier of HEED Award recipients — as Diversity Champions. These institutions exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs and at the highest administrative levels. Known for visionary leadership, Diversity Champions are institutions that serve as role models and set the standard for thousands of other U.S. college campuses striving for inclusive excellence.

“During my time as interim vice president for institutional diversity during the 2020-21 academic year, I had the privilege of working on projects with outstanding leaders who are resolute in their efforts to ensure all are welcomed, respected, seen and heard,” said George Wright, senior adviser to President Eli Capilouto. “This recognition is a testament to the invaluable work of so many staff, faculty and students who reach across disciplines and units to work collaborate and improve inclusivity and equity in our community.”

Some of those initiatives and programs include the following:

Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies

In August 2020, UK announced the establishment of the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies — a multidisciplinary program that will highlight UK’s growing research around issues of race and racism. You can learn more about the institute here:

Redesign UK 101

The UK 101 objectives and content have been revised to reflect the following objectives: 

  • Introduce students to a common language surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Provide a welcoming environment to ask questions, seek understanding and engage in challenging conversations.
  • Connect students to key campus resources, events and activities that support student success.
  • Ask students to reflect on their own standpoint and the impact their experiences have on their role as a UK community member.

Develop DEI Campus Plan

Early last fall, the university retained best-in-class global design firm, Sasaki, to develop an overall plan for the university’s infrastructure with a focus on inclusion and diversity. The DEI Campus Plan will address issues and opportunities related to institutional history, art and sculpture, civic landscapes, accessibility and other barriers to inclusion within buildings and across the campus. 

DEI Website

The DEI website is home to information about DEI-related resources available to faculty, staff and students; events and organizations; news and campus messages; and updates on DEI efforts around campus. You can learn more by visiting

These are just a few examples of the remarkable work happening every day, and faculty, staff and students are at the front of those endeavors. With the support of the UK community, the university remains committed to dismantling oppressive systems and learning more about how to advance Kentucky through increased diversity, equity and inclusion.

“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”

For more information about the 2021 HEED Award, visit

About INSIGHT Into Diversity

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the oldest and largest diversity publication in higher education today and is well-known for its annual Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, the only award recognizing colleges and universities for outstanding diversity and inclusion efforts across their campuses. In addition to its online job board, INSIGHT Into Diversity presents timely, thought-provoking news and feature stories on matters of diversity and inclusion across higher education and beyond. Articles include interviews with innovators and experts, as well as profiles of best practices and exemplary programs. Readers will also discover career opportunities that connect job seekers with institutions and businesses that embrace a diverse and inclusive workforce. Current, archived and digital issues of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine are available online 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 four 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 five 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.