Newly-renewed scholarship fund honors legacy of Dr. Juanita Fleming

Posted: September 28, 2020

The UK College of Nursing is proud to announce the renewal of a scholarship fund in honor of Dr. Juanita Fleming, the college's first African-American faculty member.  

UK CON Dean Janie Heath joined Marsha Hughes-Rease, the UK CON's first African-American BSN graduate, to announce the scholarship fund's renewal during the college's virtual 2020 Celebration of Alumni Stars event Sept. 10.  

“Dr. Fleming’s patience and presence had a profound impact on me as a student and as a future nurse leader,” said Hughes-Rease. “As a graduate professor, she took the time to thoughtfully listen to my concerns as an undergraduate student and helped me become more self-aware. The example she set as a prominent African-American figure in the College was meaningful to my experience, and I will always be thankful for the impact she had on my life.”

The fund was renewed thanks to an initial contribution of $5000 from the *CON's Fabulous Five—the first African-American graduates in each nursing degree program.  The 'Fab 5' are leading the charge to raise a total of $50,000 to put toward the scholarship fund, that will benefit minority and underrepresented students seeking degrees in any of the college's undergraduate or graduate programs.  

Dr. Fleming's two sons and niece also took part in the virtual event and were proud to represent their mother and support the renewed scholarship fund at this especially important time for racial justice in America. 

"As a devoted wife, mother, and professor, my mother lived a life of service and excellence," said Robert Fleming, son of Dr. Juanita Fleming and executive director of the Actors Theatre in Louisville, Ky. "Long before we had the language of 'racial equity and social justice', my mother was doing that work --creating opportunities and cultivating equitable spaces within educational institutions. She showed us what a strong work ethic looks like, while at the same time exhibiting extraordinary empathy. We are honored that her legacy lives on through her students, like Marsha Hughes-Rease, who continue to lead and inspire others."

Dr. Fleming's other son Dr. William Fleming and niece Deborah Adams also participated in the event.  

*The Fab 5 include Mrs. Marsha L. Hughes-Rease (BSN 1972), Dr. Katherine S. Detherage and Mrs. Alalia J. Mack (MSN 1974), Dr. Vicki P. Hines-Martin (PhD 1994) and Dr. Tukea L. Talbert (DNP 2005).

Donate to the fund 

To make a contribution to this important legacy scholarship fund, visit or contact Kerrie Moore, UK CON Director of Alumni and Philanthropy at or 859-323-1966.

About Dr. Fleming 

Fleming was a pioneer in her field, as the first African-American professor at UK’s College of Nursing. She led trailblazing efforts in the areas of research and education, focusing the majority of her career on the well-being of children and their families. She retired from the University of Kentucky in 2001 as a special assistant to the president of UK working in Academic Affairs.

Fleming began her career at UK in 1969 in the College of Nursing as an Assistant Professor and was soon after the appointed chair of maternal and child health nursing. She went on to become associate dean and director of the college’s master’s program. While retaining her professorship at the College of Nursing, she also went on to hold a joint appointment as a professor of education policy studies and evaluation in the College of Education.  In 1985, she was also appointed as the vice chancellor for academic affairs for UK’s Medical Center and she closed out her career at the university working in the office of the president.

Throughout her distinguished career, Fleming’s research was published across multiple well-renowned publications including the National Institutes of Health’s Behavioral Medicine Study Section, the Maternal and Child Health Research Review Panel, the National Advisory Council on Nursing Education, and the National Advisory Council for Health Care Policy, Research, and Evaluation.

Fleming was also a reviewer for several professional publications and served as a consultant and evaluator for the Leadership Enhancement and Development Project (LEAD), funded by the Kellogg Foundation. She was a member of The National Academy of Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. And in 2004, she became the first College of Nursing faculty member to be named a “Living Legends” by the FAAN – an elite declaration by the nation’s top nursing organization.

Fleming passed away in March 2020.  Her accomplishments and legacy continue to live on in through her impact on research, education, and those who knew her.