UK President, Black students meet and plan for change


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President Eli Capilouto met with two dozen Black and African American students in his home Thursday night to talk about how minority students face racism on campus.

In an campus-wide email, Capilouto wrote about how the Board of Trustees is working to improve the college experience for these students.

“Underrepresented students face explicit statements and acts rooted in hate and ignorance and micro-aggression motivated by a lack of compassion and understanding,” Capilouto wrote in the email. “Together, let us recommit ourselves to building an even stronger, more diverse, more inclusive, more enlightened community.”

The Strategic Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees three weeks ago outlines new ways UK will improve for minority and underrepresented students.

Three “strategic initiatives” in the plan provide the framework: Foster a diverse community of engaged students; improve workforce diversity and inclusion; engage diverse world views and perspectives by increasing awareness of diversity and by communications across campus that address these issues.

According to the Strategic Plan, about more than 11 percent of undergraduate students and about 7 percent of graduate students are from underrepresented communities. The Plan hopes to increase these numbers by 2020 to about 13 and 12 percent, respectively.

The Plan also hopes to increase the number underrepresented students who graduate within six years from 45 percent for undergraduates to 60 percent by 2020.

The number and proportion of all UK employees, including faculty, staff and administrators, is also hoped to increase.

Women make up about 37 percent of faculty, Black and African Americans make up 3.4 percent, and Hispanic and Latino people make up 2.8 percent currently.

By 2020, these numbers should increase to about 48 percent for women, 7 percent for Black and African Americans, and just over 4 percent for Hispanics and Latinos.

Capilouto wrote in the email that the university must encourage student activism and dialogue about how to make UK better for all students.

“What you learn in college translates to what you do in life, and we want our students to be activists for social change outside of these walls as well as inside them,” Capilouto wrote. “It was an essential moment for me and other members of our leadership team to hear from our students, in their own words, what they experience on our campus. They shared their hopes for themselves, their friends and their futures; and they laid bare the uncertainty, anxiety, and — in many cases — fear that comes day-after-day with being a member of an underrepresented part of our UK family.”