Campus News

UK: Action Plan to Address Gaps in Opportunity, Access for Black and Other Communities of Color

students with masks to protect from COVID-19 sitting on steps
In addition to UK's restart plan for in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic this fall, the university will also embark on a comprehensive plan designed to accelerate progress for diversity across campus. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 19, 2020) The University of Kentucky on Friday announced the first steps of what will be a comprehensive plan, designed to accelerate progress at UK for diversity across campus.

“In many ways recently, we have made progress — educating and graduating more Black students and underrepresented students than at any time in our history. But we must also continue to confront the fact that much of that history — of an institution we all love — excluded Black students,” UK President Eli Capilouto told members of the Board of Trustees. “Today’s steps recognize that actions — symbolic, substantive and sustained — are required now.”

The action plan, announced during Friday’s meeting of the UK Board of Trustees, contains steps around the areas of investments in training; employee recruitment and retention; student success; policies and programming; facilities and finances; research into social and racial injustice issues and health disparities; and organizational structure. Highlights of the first phase of the action plan include:

  • Requiring cultural proficiency training for all faculty and teaching assistants; training on handling race discussions in the classroom; diversity and inclusion training for students prior to the start of the fall semester; and strengthening the diversity curriculum for UK 101.
  • Earmarking funds for greater diversity faculty and staff recruitment.
  • Creating a mini-internship program and developing a student advisory group to increase the pipeline toward careers in higher education.
  • Expanding the university’s supplier diversity purchasing program.
  • Empaneling a principles of community committee (evaluate Creed and Code).
  • Conducting a facilities audit as part of the development of a diversity/inclusivity master plan for the campus and creating a “percent for art fund” in which dollars for large capital construction projects would be earmarked to purchase diverse and inclusive art.
  • Building out the development of — and consistency in policies around — diversity and inclusion officers within each UK college.
  • Creating a research alliance — as UK did in response to the coronavirus — to study and develop strategies around the reduction of social and racial injustice and health disparities.

The action steps will be developed over the next several weeks and months. All of them will be put into motion by the end of the fall semester, Capilouto said. In addition, each action step will have executive sponsors to help ensure accountability and completion of each initiative.

“Today, I hope we are stating as a board and as a university our unequivocal commitment to this cause,” Capilouto said. “History is full of beginnings. The present can be one, too. Let us commit today to a new beginning, one from which we will not retreat ever again.”

More information about the plan is available here:

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.