LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 19, 2021) — How can the look and layout of a campus make a community more diverse, just and equitable?
That’s the central question being grappled with by a multidisciplinary project team that is part of the University of Kentucky’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion effort — a comprehensive campus-wide initiative, designed to foster a community at UK committed to acceptance and belonging.
“Our history, our art, our landscapes and, yes, our barriers to navigation — all of these things contribute to creating the type of community we are,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “The challenge now is to understand how all these things can, collectively, be positioned to be the community we aspire to be.”
Specifically, a project team for several months — led by Vice President for Facilities Management Mary Vosevich and Interim Assistant Vice President for Auxiliary Services Andrew Smith — has been working to identify existing areas of concern on the campus relative to institutional history, art, sculpture and civic landscapes, accessibility and other barriers to inclusion within buildings across the campus.
The idea is to create a DEI master plan to complement the institution’s overall master plan, which was completed in 2020. A campus master plan is designed to contemplate and envision ongoing and future development of the campus — from the placement of roadways to the creation of additional greenspace.
As part of the creation of the DEI master plan, the university has embraced best-in-class consulting firm Sasaki to engage stakeholders from around the university collaboratively.
The master plan will include a vision for transforming the campus over time to create a more inclusive, equitable and barrier-free environment. Sasaki, an internationally recognized planning firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, helped UK develop its previous campus master plan.
Over the next several months, Sasaki will, among other initiatives, complete:
- A listening tour and deep discussions with stakeholders across the campus.
- A campus survey on the issues involved.
- An inventory of campus art, sculptures and civic landscapes.
- Presentations to campus constituencies regarding key findings.
- The development of opportunities for transformation and change on the campus in response to the issues and concerns identified by the campus community as well as the opportunities and recommendations noted.
- A recommended DEI master vision and plan by July 2021.
Last summer, UK reinvigorated a plan to respond to the injustices of the past — both recent and long ago — to progress the institution toward diversity, equity and inclusion.
Hundreds of faculty, staff and students — more than 600 people — have volunteered their time and talents on the 17 projects in Phase One of the university’s DEI plan.
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.