LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 5, 2016) — As outlined in the strategic plan, the University of Kentucky is working to enhance the diversity and inclusivity of the university community through recruitment and retention of an increasingly diverse population of faculty, administrators, staff and students.
By implementing initiatives that provide rich diversity-related experiences for all, UK hopes to ensure success in an interconnected world.
That vision — and how the university will measure its progress — is outlined in detail in UK’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. The plan was endorsed by the UK Board of Trustees in October 2015, and it outlines five strategic areas where the university needs to continue building upon its progress of the last several years to meet its ambitious aspirations.
The university’s progress in diversity and inclusion is an essential component to that plan.
“The University of Kentucky Strategic Plan in its entirety recognizes the educational benefit of diversity and inclusion throughout every strategic objective. We must now consistently demonstrate by our actions the compelling interest in diversity and a community of inclusion, and work to attain continuous improvement in all metrics that assess annual progress,” said Terry Allen, interim vice president for institutional diversity.
Some recent initiatives within the Office for Institutional Diversity include:
- The expansion of the mission of Health Colleges Student Diversity Services to cover all graduate and professional programs on campus
- Working with the Office for Faculty Advancement to assess the support of the university for diverse faculty populations
- Working with the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to develop a new university policy which will result in a university diversity plan
- Increased programming funding for organizations within the Office for Institutional Diversity
Specifically, the 2015-2020 plan outlines three strategic initiatives regarding diversity and inclusion:
- Foster a diverse community of engaged students
- Improve workforce diversity and inclusion
- Engage diverse worldviews and perspectives by increasing awareness of diversity and by communications across campus that address these issues
An environment that includes people of all backgrounds, identities, and perspectives will only be achieved by working collaboratively to create a community of openness and acceptance for all of students, faculty, and staff, Allen said.
Leading UK’s efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive community is the Office for Institutional Diversity (OID). The OID strives to promote campuswide diversity initiatives – empowering colleges, schools, major units and student-led organizations to develop their own programs and strategies.
The OID houses five units that will continue to lead the way to a more diverse and inclusive campus. These units include the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services (CARES), Health Colleges Student Diversity Services (HCSDS), the Office of LGTBTQ* Resources, the Martin Luther King Center and Student Support Services (SSS).
CARES provides a comprehensive academic support system as well as enrichment services to aid in increasing the retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students.
Similarly, HCSDS is committed to the recruitment, support and professional development of underrepresented students in the professional health care programs of dentistry, health sciences, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health.
The Office of LGBTQ* Resources is the central hub for accessing information, groups and services related to diverse sexualities and gender identities. The office also seeks to connect and collaborate with LGBTQ* community groups and friends across the Lexington and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The Martin Luther King Center exists to foster intercultural competence, promote respect and passion for the pursuit of quality education, and to help prepare students for productive and responsible engagement in a global society.
Lastly, Student Support Services provides a holistic approach to working with students designed to aid in retention and graduation of students who are first generation, low income or have a documented disability.
Allen said he works closely – and in a spirit of collaboration – with each unit to implement ideas, collaborate on outreach and recruitment efforts, and to enhance student retention and achievement.
It is pivotal to combine the voices, views and perspectives of everyone on campus to ensure a more diverse and inclusive climate through initiatives that are comprehensive and consensus-driven, he said.
“It is the responsibility of everyone to demonstrate mutual respect and human value, to work collaboratively, to make decisions based on merit in everything we do, and hold individuals accountable for their actions,” Allen said. “Only then can you say the University of Kentucky is truly a diverse and inclusive institution.”
The strategic plan in full can be read here.