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By Selena Stevens

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UK's vice chancellor of minority affairs, Lauretta Byars, has contributed to the university and the community in diverse ways over the past 28 years.

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May 5, 2000 – (Lexington, Ky.) – Lauretta Byars, vice chancellor of minority affairs at the University of Kentucky, is the recipient of this year’s Lyons Award for Outstanding Service, which is given for service to the campus, community and state.

The award is given by UK’s Martin School for Public Policy and Administration. The award honors the late political science and public administration professor William E. Lyons, who served the community and campus as director of the Martin School, chair of UK’s political science department, chair of the Merger Commission that established the Urban County Government, member of the Urban County Council and chair of various government committees.

Byars has contributed to the university and the community in diverse ways over the past 28 years. From her earliest position at UK as executive director for Educational Talent Search to her current position as vice chancellor, she has been particularly involved in student affairs and services.

“Dr. Byars is strongly committed to broad academic leadership in higher education, student learning inside and outside the classroom, institutional and personal values, including the areas of cultural, racial, ethnic and gender diversity and mutual respect in all ways of life at the University of Kentucky and in the community,” wrote Lexington Campus Chancellor Elisabeth Zinser in her nomination of Byars. “Her conviction to institutionalize the legacy of African Americans in UK’s history, to reconcile our disparity and differences and to renew our commitment to the principles of equality, cultural diversity and human dignity has been a major force for positive change at our university.”

Byars’ contributions don’t stop at the campus gate. She has made major commitments to improving Lexington and the commonwealth in ways that are both professional and personal. Her list of community service activities is extensive. It includes membership on the Lexington Commission on Race Relations during the last eight years, a time during which several events have challenged local leaders and citizens to find ways to build community across the races. She chairs the Council for Families and Children, a statewide advisory group for the Cabinet for Families and Children. She served on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Comprehensive Plan Update Committee and was on the Child and Adolescent Service Task Force. She was a Court Appointed Special Advocate for the LFUCG Division of Juvenile Court. She also has been a member of the Educational Opportunity Task Force of Fayette County Public Schools and served with Kentucky Tomorrow:  The Commission on Kentucky’s Future. She was active on the Voluntary Action Center Board of Directors and was on the Lexington-Fayette County Community Action Headstart Policy Council. She also has served as a foster parent for the Cabinet for Families and Children for 20 years.

Her list of university service activities is equally impressive, spanning a wide variety of committee, task force and team assignments over the last 28 years. This has included activities such as the Inclusive Learning Community Team, the Equal Opportunity Panel, the Student Code Committee, the Student Financial Aid Committee and numerous committees of the UK College of Social Work, where she is a full professor and has served as assistant dean for student affairs and director of the undergraduate program. She also has served on universitywide search committees for the dean of the College of Education, associate dean of the Graduate School, director of the Women’s Studies Program and dean of students.

Byars has been professionally active in the Commission on Human Resources of the National Association of State and Land Grant Universities, the Council on Social Work Education, the Kentucky Association of Black in Higher Education and the Kentucky Association of Social Work Educators, among other groups.

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