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University of Kentucky releases plan to address gaps in opportunity for Black, other underrepresented students

The plan was revealed at the UK Board of Trustees meeting on Friday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The first steps of what will be a comprehensive plan designed to accelerate progress at the University of Kentucky (UK) for diversity across campus was announced Friday.

The action plan was revealed at the UK Board of Trustees meeting. Some of the steps include investments in training, employee recruitment and retention, student success, policies and programming, facilities and finances, research into social and racial injustice issues and health disparities, and organizational structure. 

“In many ways recently, we have made progress — educating and graduating more Black students and underrepresented students than at any time in our history. But we must also continue to confront the fact that much of that history — of an institution we all love — excluded Black students,” UK President Eli Capilouto told members of the Board of Trustees. “Today’s steps recognize that actions — symbolic, substantive and sustained — are required now.”

Highlights of the first phase of the action plan include:

  • Requiring cultural proficiency training for all faculty and teaching assistants; training on handling race discussions in the classroom; diversity and inclusion training for students prior to the start of the fall semester; and strengthening the diversity curriculum for UK 101.
  • Earmarking funds for greater diversity faculty and staff recruitment.
  • Creating a mini-internship program and developing a student advisory group to increase the pipeline toward careers in higher education.
  • Expanding the university’s supplier diversity purchasing program.
  • Empaneling a principles of community committee (evaluate Creed and Code).
  • Conducting a facilities audit as part of the development of a diversity/inclusivity master plan for the campus and creating a “percent for art fund” in which dollars for large capital construction projects would be earmarked to purchase diverse and inclusive art.
  • Building out the development of — and consistency in policies around — diversity and inclusion officers within each UK college.
  • Creating a research alliance — as UK did in response to the coronavirus — to study and develop strategies around the reduction of social and racial injustice and health disparities.

The action steps will be developed over the next several weeks and months. All of them will be put into motion by the end of the fall semester, Capilouto said. In addition, each action step will have executive sponsors to help ensure accountability and completion of each initiative.

“Today, I hope we are stating as a board and as a university our unequivocal commitment to this cause,” Capilouto said. “History is full of beginnings. The present can be one, too. Let us commit today to a new beginning, one from which we will not retreat ever again.”

More about the plan is available here.

Earlier this month Kentucky removed a longstanding mural from Memorial Hall because it was considered racist.

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