LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2020) — University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto sent the following email to all faculty, staff and students Tuesday, Aug. 4.
Dear Campus Community,
Our goal is to change a culture. Changing a culture requires the sustained commitment of an entire community. And that starts with people.
Today, I am pleased to announce an important step in our process of becoming a more diverse and inclusive community that is equitable and just.
A 22-member leadership team — with student, faculty and staff representatives of more than 10 colleges and several units — will help guide our efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion.
The team, which will report directly to me, will be led by Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity George Wright. You can read the list of this exemplary leadership team here. We will be adding a community member soon as well.
In addition, a 10-member workgroup has been established and is meeting multiple times a week, to help facilitate the collective work of this cultural change. The members of the workgroup can be found here. The workgroup already is focused on assigning executive sponsors to six major workstreams that revolve around areas such as faculty, staff and student talent; culture, policies and programming; facilities and finances; research and community outreach.
From there, we will build out project-based work teams. The work teams will comprise students, faculty and staff from across our campus, all who have volunteered time and talents to this initiative. These work team projects span a facilities master plan centered on diversity, equity and inclusion, anti-racism training for faculty, staff and students, responsible speech and ensuring a more diverse pipeline for faculty, staff and students, among others.
You can view a graphic depiction of the process here.
As a campus, we will count on these outstanding members of our community to construct a creative and collaborative cultural shift unlike any other undertaken at this institution. We must not simply have more people around the table, lending their voices to the effort. In some important ways, we must build a new table, one with places for everyone, where access and opportunity are afforded equally.
We have designed a process like this one because we know that systemic racism — the project of not simply opposing racism but being understood as anti-racist — must begin now but continue for weeks, months and years to come.
Over time, people will continue to join this effort. More projects and initiatives likely will be added. We do not start by thinking we have all the answers; we have people committed to change and we believe that commitment can make a difference.
At the same time, even as we are committed to ongoing dialogue and inclusion, changes that we know must be made cannot and should not wait.
To that end, over the next several days, the university will make a number of announcements regarding substantive action steps that will underscore our commitment to equity and complement the process we have initiated. We will be:
- Announcing a major investment in research around issues of equity, disparities, and justice.
- Examining how we can ensure our efforts around public safety can be even more diverse and representative of our community.
- Meeting with community leaders to develop plans and goals around more diverse business partners that will strengthen our economy.
- Unveiling ways that more inclusive voices will join our leadership team at UK.
- Announcing anti-racism training for members of our community.
Where there are gaps we know we can fill, we must close them. Where there are opportunities that can be seized immediately, we must take them. And where there are places where equality of access and opportunity have been denied or deferred, we must not delay.
This is our moment.
We must move now to seize it.
Thank you for your willingness to be a community that meets the moment.
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 $476.5 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.