NewsCovering Kentucky


Work underway for new UK research initiative focused on racial inequity

Posted at 10:08 AM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-19 10:10:28-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Over the summer, the University of Kentucky announced new measures it's taking to address diversity and inclusion. That included creating a new research initiative focused on racial disparities and inequity.

The ‘UNITed in racial Equity,’ or UNITE, Research Initiative is the newest research priority area at UK. It has two main goals; one, to recruit and retain racially diverse faculty, staff and students.

“And then secondly, we want to invest in research focused on racial health equity, social justice, and racial justice initiatives,” said Danelle Stevens-Watkins, assistant vice-president for research in diversity and inclusion.

Stevens-Watkins is leading the initiative and she's starting by working to form an advisory board of faculty members from several of the university's colleges.

“Individuals maybe with a background in business or economics have common goals wanting to improve racial equity similarly to a researcher in sociology or psychology,” she said.

When it comes to researching racial inequity, Stevens-Watkins says historically, institutions like government entities and healthcare systems have failed minority populations. She hopes researchers can shed light on these problems.

“We are hoping that the UNITE Research Priority Area, the research that we will conduct and we plan to do will reinvest in those communities and actually have a positive impact instead of just taking from those communities,” said Stevens-Watkins.

In addition to a board of faculty members, Stevens-Watkins plans to create a board of members from the community.