Final diversity candidate visits today

The final candidate for UK’s newly created top diversity position will answer questions and discuss his thoughts on the job during an open forum today.

Overtoun Jenda, associate provost for diversity and multicultural affairs at Auburn University, is one of two candidates for the vice president for institutional diversity position. As part of a two-day tour of campus, he will participate in the forum from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in room 209 of the Main Building.

“He offers the unique quality of not only having significant expertise on diversity and distinguished scholarly success in mathematics, he is an alum of UK and carries with him a robust interest in giving back to this institution,” said search committee chairwoman Carol Jordan.

If selected, Jenda would advise the president and the provost on how UK’s policy decisions will affect the university’s diversity goals, according to the position advertisement released at the beginning of the search in fall 2006.

He would also be responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating UK’s diversity strategies.

UK initially planned to have a vice president for institutional diversity in place by July 1, 2007, but the original final five candidates either were not selected or pulled out.

After a second round, the search committee selected Jenda and Judy “J.J.” Jackson, dean of the college at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as the final two candidates. Jackson visited campus last week.

UK has no definite time frame for when the position will be filled, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said last week, as is the case for most high-level positions.

“The success of Dr. Jackson’s visit of last week reinforced why she was selected,” Jordan said. “I am confident that Dr. Jenda’s visit this week will do the same.”

As with last week’s open forum, students, staff and faculty may ask Jenda questions today. After the forum ends, comments and recommendations can be submitted to Provost Kumble Subbaswamy through a form available on the provost’s Web site ( before he makes the final decision on who will be offered the job.

“One of the most important moments in the search process has now arrived,” Jordan said, “the moment when the UK community shares its views with President (Lee) Todd and Provost Subbaswamy. No one can afford to be silent.”