Campus News

UK Recognized as 'Top College for Diversity' and 'Diversity Champion' by INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine

photo of students on campus
This is the fourth year in a row UK has received both honors. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 29, 2020) — INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity publication and website in higher education today, has recognized the University of Kentucky as a 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award recipient and a 2020 Diversity Champion. This is the fourth year in a row UK has received both honors.

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 throughout their campus, UK will be featured, along with 89 other recipients, in the November 2020 HEED Award 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.

The honors come during a dynamic period in the university's ongoing mission to elevate diversity and inclusion throughout the campus community. This summer, President Eli Capilouto announced UK's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Implementation Plan, which includes a 21-member team, representing more than 10 colleges and units, that helps guide UK’s efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion. As part of that plan, Capilouto also announced a restructure of his leadership team this summer. The reorganization results in more diverse and representative leadership focused on the university’s core strategic imperatives, including diversity, student success, accountability and its historic land-grant mission of service.

Under the DEI plan, the budget of the UK Office for Institutional Diversity will also undergo a significant expansion — from $3.1 million to $19.3 million — that includes oversight of scholarships, resources for faculty and staff recruitment of color and strengthening relationships with communities.

The university also recently announced the sponsorship of a five-year, $10 million research initiative focused on racial disparities and inequity across broad areas, ranging from health to the historical foundations of systemic racism. The UNITed in racial Equity (UNITE) Research Initiative was designated as one of seven Research Priority Areas at UK, which brings together the university’s brightest scholars and scientists across the campus toward this institution-wide research priority, and importantly, provides investment to support collaborative research that enables change.

Additionally, Capilouto and faculty leaders in the UK African American and Africana Studies program announced the establishment of the proposed Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies — a multidisciplinary program that will highlight UK’s growing research around issues of race and racism. An initial $250,000 investment as seed money to leverage additional investment aims to help the institute move forward with a critical series of initiatives. The interdisciplinary institute will establish research clusters across the campus and promote UK’s growing research and scholarship on topics of importance in African history and African American history, such as slavery and the quest for freedom, racial discrimination and violence, and the long struggle for civil rights.

“UK is a visionary leader among institutions of higher education striving for inclusive excellence throughout their campus,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “As a Diversity Champion school, UK exceeds everyday expectations by developing successful strategies and programs that serve as models of excellence for other higher education institutions.”

“UK has continued to strengthen its support toward equity and inclusion throughout the years,” said Jason Brooks, UK executive director for institutional engagement. “As the flagship institution for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we are excited in receiving this recognition for the fourth consecutive year. Though we have been recognized as a Champion for Diversity, we will continue to cultivate a culture of caring while nurturing a sense of belonging for our faculty, staff and students. We are truly heading in the right direction; moving toward a more equitable and inclusive experience for all within our campus community.”

For more information about the HEED Award or the Diversity Champion recognition, visit

About INSIGHT Into Diversity

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the oldest and largest diversity publication in higher education today and is 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

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.