Departments show international faculty appreciation


Immigrant faculty members get ready to pose for photos in a quad by Bradley Hall at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, March 24, 2017. The meeting was put together to show how immigrants are essential to higher education, especially at UK. Photo by Joshua Qualls | Staff

Sydney Momeyer

The political climate of the U.S. has shifted significantly since the election of President Donald Trump and personally changed the lives of many immigrants across the country, including in the world of higher education.

At UK, about 190 instructional faculty and 785 undergraduates were identified as “nonresident aliens” by the university during the 2015-16 school year. 

On Friday, Mar. 24, various UK departments gathered outside the International Center on campus. The gathering welcomed immigrant faculty members from all parts of the UK community to help express the important roles immigrants play in higher education. 

“This event was about diversity, immigration, higher education and inclusivity,” Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and coordinator of the event Cristina Alcalde said. 

At UK, immigrant faculty members play vital roles in the university’s community. With so many faculty members originating from other countries, these individuals make up a diverse part of UK that affects the university as a whole.

“According to the Migration Policy Institute, immigrants in the U.S. are more likely to have a Ph.D. or professional degree than native-born Americans. Also, on average, the children of immigrants have the same or higher levels of education than the children of native-born Americans.”

“Immigrants play important roles as directors, chairs, deans and associate deans, in other administrative positions, as well as in our roles as professors and mentors to students,” Alcalde said.

Immigrants are not just a large part of faculty life at UK. Immigrants also make up and affect a large part of student life on campus as well.  

“Different viewpoints are enriching,” Associate Professor of French and Francophone studies Jacqueline Couti said. “You don’t want to be too similar to everyone else. When people come from other places with different ideas, it gives you ideas and it rejuvenates you and then you can grow.”

In a time of sudden political and social shifts, UK has made efforts to ensure that immigrants know that they are a large and important part of the UK community.

“We must not let this moment drive us apart from one another,” President Eli Capilouto said in a university-wide email. “We should instead use this opportunity to become an even closer and mutually supportive community of students, faculty, and staff from every part of the globe.”