UK Happenings

UK Social Work’s Rosenstein Lecture to feature author Melissa Harris-Perry

Photo of Melissa Harris-Perry
Melissa Harris-Perry, the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair and professor at Wake Forest University, will present the distinguished lecture.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 7, 2023)  On Tuesday, April 18, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (CoSW) will hold the 21st Annual Irma Sarett Rosenstein Lecture. This year's event, featuring award-winning author Melissa Harris-Perry, will take place at 8:30 a.m. in the Gatton Student Center (Grand Ballroom AB).

The lecture is named for Lexington social worker Irma Sarett Rosenstein. Until her passing in 2015, she led the fight against social injustice in Central Kentucky. The lecture, intended to celebrate Rosenstein's remarkable legacy, will feature a national voice on positive social change.

Harris-Perry, the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair and professor at Wake Forest University, will present the distinguished lecture. She is also the founder and president of the Anna Julia Cooper Center — an independent organization with a mission to advance justice for women and girls of color in higher education.

Harris-Perry is the former host of the award-winning show “Melissa Harris-Perry” on MSNBC. In 2016, she was awarded the Hillman Prize for broadcast journalism. Harris-Perry is currently the co-host of the popular podcast “System Check.”

She is also the author of the award-winning “Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought” and “Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America.”

“We are extremely grateful to the Rosenstein family for supporting what is sure to be a thoughtful and illuminating lecture by Dr. Melissa Harris Perry,” Jay Miller, dean of the CoSW, said. “The Irma Rosenstein Lecture Series encapsulates all that is social work, and we look forward to continuing to bring these experiences to our UK community for many years to come.”

The lecture will be part of the 2023 UNITE Research Showcase — an event centered around elevating and promoting the importance of racial equity research at UK, across the Commonwealth and beyond.

The lecture and showcase are free and open to UK faculty, staff, students, affiliates and academic partners. Those interested in attending are required to register online.

More about Rosenstein

Rosenstein was a social worker at UK Chandler Hospital and taught in the CoSW, where she worked closely with the first dean of the college, Ernest Witte. She is well-remembered for bringing an ethos of openness and clarity to the college and community issues.

Rosenstein did not shirk from addressing racism. She was the driving force behind the Kentucky Conference of Christians and Jews — now called the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice (KCCJ). The organization is dedicated to building community. Rosenstein also hosted one of social work’s most prominent leaders, Whitney Young, at a KCCJ dinner when no public places outside of UK were desegregated.

Thanks to a generous gift from Rosenstein and her family in 2002, the CoSW has been providing research-based and practice-driven lectures by distinguished national speakers each year on UK’s campus.

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.