UK HealthCare

'UK at the Half': Meet UK's Outstanding Staff Member of the Year

Angela Keene
Angela Keene

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 5, 2022) — For this "UK at the Half," we talk to University of Kentucky's College of Pharmacy's Angela Keene. 

“One of my mottos as an HR director is to always practice empathy. And to make sure that we help each other and support each other and our struggles and triumphs,” said Angela Keene.

That approach to her job at the UK College of Pharmacy is a big reason why Keene was recently named the UK Outstanding Staff Member of the Year. It is an award that is decided by other UK staff members.

“To have them recognize me, in this manner is just truly humbling,” said Keene.

She has been the HR manager for the College of Pharmacy since 2015. Keene says she enjoys having a front row seat for the accomplishments throughout the college.

“Just seeing students earn their degrees and achieve their successes is really special. Our college is doing so many wonderful things, cutting-edge research, being on the front lines of delivering COVID-19 vaccines, and just to be a part of that is is amazing.”

Working in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, like for many, has meant making making necessary changes while keeping the college’s mission in focus.

“It was a little bit of a scramble at first wondering how are we going to support our students that are remote learning? How are we going to support staff and keep the college going?," remembered Keene. “It was a lot of reminding ourselves that we're all here for the same thing. We're all here to support each other. When someone else stumbles, we're there to pick them up. And to really help them move forward for the success of all of us, for our students, for our postdocs, for the research that needs to continue.”

Keene says she is not only proud of the resiliency shown by those she works with but also of how they never hesitated when called upon.

“I took my mom, who is 89, to the Kroger Field vaccine clinic and to see all of our students there and our faculty that contributing there … it is outstanding, and I couldn’t be prouder to work here.”

It is a job that Keene says is truly a joy, and it is because of here that many others at UK say the same.

“As a lifelong UK fan, if you will, to be able to work at the university and work in the UK College of Pharmacy that's ranked sixth in the country, it is just a pleasure. This recognition is just like icing on the cake.”

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.