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Leading Towards Greater Inclusivity in honor of Breonna Taylor

September 23, 2020

Dear College of Health Sciences community,

Members of the campus community received the message below this afternoon from the university's academic leadership team. This message further reinforces the commitment that the CHS leadership team and I have to make the UK College of Health Sciences a more inclusive community.  In honor of Breonna Taylor, we will continue our work to better understand, listen, and learn from each other so our college can make decisive and compassionate changes that lead toward greater inclusivity and transform our CHS community. Together we will rise stronger as one.

Dear Members of the UK Community:

Our thoughts are with the family, friends and community members directly affected by the news released today about Breonna Taylor's death. We know that coping in such a public way adds layers to an already deep grief.

Like many of you, we experienced a range of emotions upon hearing this news. For some, it was frustration. For others, it was fear. Collectively, we share a sense of concern, urgency and responsibility.

We, as academic administrators, recognize the impact this development has on our university community, particularly students. We acknowledge the hurt and anger many are feeling. We acknowledge the sense of physical and emotional exhaustion many are experiencing. We also acknowledge the need to express these feelings in a meaningful way.

This is a difficult time, too, for many faculty and staff, who are processing their own emotions while simultaneously striving to support students. Mere words cannot capture our gratitude for the contributions of faculty and staff, now and always. They truly make a difference.

We want to state clearly our steadfast commitment to, and support of, faculty, staff, students and community members during this time. As academic administrators, we have no greater responsibility than to foster supportive environments for our learning community. These environments must be diverse and equitable.

For many, this decision is not only a representation of a racist history, but a reminder of the racism that persists. Within that context, we know that platitudes of support are not sufficient. However, acknowledging the import of this latest development and our shared emotional response is integral for being in community, together.

Make no mistake, as university leaders, we are devoted to being an anti-racist community. This is not a questionable concept, and there are no “sides” to this argument. There is not a neutral position or room for intellectual debate. There are only two choices: anti-racism or racism. We are clear as to where we stand.

None of us knows what is to come as the result of the senseless killing of Breonna Taylor. We look forward to engaging with you to ensure that justice and equity are not just superficially represented, but inherently embodied, pragmatically instituted and consistently ensured.

In Community,

Donna Arnett

Dave Blackwell

Christian Brady

Laura Bryan

Rudy Buchheit

Nancy Cox

Mary Davis

Bob DiPaola

Jennifer Greer

Kip Guy

Janie Heath

Julian Vasquez Heilig

Larry Holloway

Brian Jackson

Kathi Kern

Scott Lephart

Jay Miller

Jeff Okeson

Sue Roberts

Mark Shanda

Simon Sheather

Mitzi Vernon

Doug Way

 

Best regards,

Scott Lephart