Eli Capilouto, president of the University of Kentucky, has announced a new strategic plan that centers on ensuring that basic needs, such as housing and food security, are met and creating a community of belonging for all students. This plan was created after President Capilouto met with the Black Student Advisory Council, who explained to him the challenges of being a student of color or need at the university.
Going forward, President Capilouto has outlined several commitments that the university has made to its students. One of the commitments was to remove a mural in Memorial Hall that has been insensitive to many students of color. During the Great Depression, Ann Rice O’Hanlon painted a 38 feet wide, 11 feet tall mural on Kentucky history in Memorial Hall. The mural depicts enslaved African Americas hunched in a field, Black musicians playing for White dancers, and a Native American threatening a White settler with a tomahawk.
The remaining commitments made by President Capilouto include:
* Creating a permanent seat for Black students on search committees for administrative officials.
* Revising the William C. Parker Scholarship and growing the program for Black students.
* Standardizing the role of diversity and inclusion officers.
* Releasing the findings from the 2016 Cook Ross survey, which help guide the progress of improving the campus climate.
* Staffing a Basic Needs Center.
* Establishing a Basic Needs Fund.
In a statement to the university community, President Capilouto wrote, “This morning, I pledged to the students – and those they represent – that we must do more. Indeed, we will do more. The actions above, created in good faith with the students and informed by their thoughtfulness and passion, are one step in the journey we are taking. It will be hard work. But all work worth doing is. I know you will join me in the journey and the work ahead.”