Editorial: Provost search an opportunity to increase UK diversity

On Jan. 6, the UK administration announced that the search committee to fill the provost position vacated by Christine Riordan expects resumes from interested final candidates by Friday.

University president Eli Capilouto emphasized the need to fill the position quickly, instead of hiring an interim provost during a longer search.

The university needs “stability and certainty in the Office of the Provost,” Capilouto wrote to the campus in December. However, the desire to hire quickly should not overshadow UK’s ability to use this search to put its money where its mouth is in regard to diversity.

The best candidate for the job should be chosen. That is without question. But in this day and age, the need to properly consider qualified women and minority candidates may be as urgent as filling the job quickly.

The UK administration acknowledged the need for more diversity in faculty and staff positions after university employees apparently called for the hiring of more women and minorities to fill open positions during a series of recent surveys.

After racist comments were posted to the National Pan-Hellenic Council’s social media page in November and Yik Yak following the die-in protests in December, the university denounced the offensive opinions expressed by students. But reacting to instances of racism is not enough to create an inclusive campus.

Capilouto listed “fostering … an inclusive campus environment that celebrates the multitude of backgrounds and perspectives” as a goal to keep in mind.

This goal, however, may not receive the attention it deserves until this search committee has finished.

In losing provost Riordan, UK has the potential to take a step back if it hires another straight, white man to replace her.

One way to create a more diverse campus is to hire individuals with a variety of life experiences and backgrounds to work there.

One can hardly expect the students on campus to freely contribute and celebrate racial, sexual and religious diversity if UK is not willing to lead by example.