The UK Women's Forum is an organization for all employees of the University — faculty and staff. Its mission is to exert a leadership role in empowering, validating, informing, including and celebrating all women employed at the University of Kentucky by addressing the challenges, communicating issues, and recognizing successes within the context of the workplace.
In 1987, a small group of dedicated women planted and nurtured an idea for a University-wide women's network. Officially created in 1991, the Women's Forum was established as a place of open discussion, creativity and collective problem solving. The roots of the Forum were deeply embedded in the hope that all UK employees would "...find a fertile and equitable haven for their ideas, energies, and talents." (Susan Stempel, a founding Women's Forum Chair).
During the first year of its establishment, Women's Forum members surveyed over 1,800 University women on various issues and established the first UK Staff Appreciation Day. Since then, members of the Women's Forum have dedicated their time and talents to making the University a better place for women to work by recognizing and celebrating outstanding University women through the annual Sarah Bennett Holmes Award ceremony and luncheon; giving voice to issues through appointments in numerous committees; educating women on issues through the annual conference, monthly professional development opportunities, and monthly board meetings; and providing critical development and networking opportunities to its membership.
Firmly planted in the ground, outside of the Main building, is a symbol of growth and change in the organizational culture of the University. In 1992 a small dogwood tree was planted by the UK Women's Forum to honor the comprehensive, exhaustive, and ground-breaking work of the members of the University Senate Council ad hoc committee on Women. The tree was dedicated in August of 1992 and was a university-wide event with a variety of speakers including Ned Breathitt, a former Kentucky governor and board member, Lee J. Magid, the first woman vice president at UK, Law Professor Carolyn Bratt, and others. at the time of the dedication, the Forum board chair, Susan Stempl, said that for the forum, the tree represents "the hope for growth in opportunities for women employees at the University and that the University will continue to move toward becoming an institution where all faculty and staff find a fertile and equitable haven for their ideas, energies, and talents."
Designed to provide leadership and direction for the Forum, the Women's Forum Board consists of a total of 20 individuals: 18 elected Board members, the past chair and the current chair. The Women's Forum Board puts out a call for nominations every year to elect new Board members. Any UK full-time regular employee, faculty or staff, may be nominated to the UK Women's Forum Board. A campus-wide election is held annually in the spring, and the elected nominees then serve a two-year term on the Board.