Feist-Price encourages diversity on college campuses


Sonja Feist-Price is the Vice President of Institutional Diversity at the University of Kentucky.

Aniya Hall

Something that affects everyone yet doesn’t get much recognition is diversity. Not only does diversity affect the lives of students on college campuses, it also affects their lives when they graduate.

Vice President of Institutional Diversity Dr. Sonja Feist-Price shared her thoughts on the importance of diversity on college campuses and the impact it has on students in their lives after graduation.

“Diversity is important for all students because in order for even majority students to navigate this world, they have to be able to work with diverse populations,” Feist-Price said. “Academic campuses are a microcosm of the world, so it’s important that you get to know people that are different.”

Although college can be a time of finding one’s own individuality, there is space for learning about other people and lifestyles that one may not have been familiar with prior to college.

Feist-Price said that when college students make an effort to get to know others who are different from them, it gives them the opportunity to understand others better and walk a mile in their shoes.

“I think the ways we can short circuit our growth is when we stay in our tribe and when we don’t get to know other people,” Feist-Price said, referring to a book by Beverly Tatum titled, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”

Feist-Price has the responsibilities of advising the president and provost on all academic, fiscal, programmatic and administrative policy decisions regarding the UK’s diversity and inclusivity goals. She said she enjoys all of her responsibilities, but the area that speaks to her soul the most is overseeing the graduation rate of underrepresented minority, first generation and low-income students.

“I know the value of education and I know that education opens up so many doors,” Feist-Price said. “Your future is really limited for most people without an education.”

Feist-Price said research shows that people with a college degree make 60 cents on the dollar more than people without a college degree. Therefore, it is vastly important that underrepresented minority, first generation and low income students graduate.

All aspects of diversity are important to Feist-Price and the rest of the Office of Institutional Diversity, she said. Abigail Bennett, an adviser for a campus student organization and a friend of Feist-Price, also had a few thoughts on the efforts that Dr. Feist-Price puts toward promoting diversity and inclusion.

“Sonja’s efforts to create an inclusive community reach back to when she began connecting with and encouraging minority staff and faculty,” Bennett said. “Her position as the Vice President of Institutional Diversity is more than a title or job for her, it is who she is. Inclusivity and belonging is part of her heartbeat. You feel it in her presence and it is lived out in her actions.”