NewsCovering Kentucky


UK, NAACP partnering to create multimillion-dollar research initiative around racial disparity, inequity

Posted at 2:13 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 18:38:16-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A letter sent to University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto from professors and staff demanding action to make the university a more inclusive place has led to a new collaboration between UK and the NAACP.

The United in Racial Equity (UNITE) initiative announced Thursday involves a five-year, $10 million commitment to research educational equity, civil rights and social justice at the university.

The university previously had six research priorities: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, energy, neuroscience, and substance use disorder.

UNITE is now UK’s seventh priority.

Danelle Stevens-Watkins, UK’s assistant vice president for research in diversity and inclusion, said UNITE is a win for the entire university.

“I think this is going to be a benchmark for the nation, particularly predominantly white institutions, and how we can do things in a way that incorporates diversity and inclusion in reality, instead of just lip service,” she said.

The agreement was signed by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, NAACP Chairman Leon W. Russell, UK Provost David Blackwell and UK College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig.

UK said it hopes the initiative will be a model for other universities moving forward.