Spring renewal and refocus March 21, 2023
- Spring is a time for renewal. Our faith traditions remind us of the need for reflection and the importance of a diverse community of belonging.
- March is Women’s History Month. UK is honoring the accomplishments of those who came before us as well as those in our midst today who continue to blaze trails for future generations.
- Senior administrators recently reviewed the final guidelines for our work location efforts. Those are currently available online for review prior to implementation later this spring and summer.
As many of you return from Spring Break this week, I hope you found time for reflection and feel rejuvenated.
Spring, after all, is a season of rebirth and renewal. We see signs of that renewal all around us — in the changing of nature called forth by a warming sun, in the transitions from school to career among our soon-to-be graduates and in the prospect of welcoming a new class of students in the coming months who will join this special community.
This spring, varied faith traditions and celebrations — Ramadan and Easter, Passover, Holi and Vaisakhi, among many others — are also overlapping, all marking a time to reflect on enduring values and obligations.
While each tradition examines the world through distinctive lenses and languages, customs and commitments, they share the value of bringing individuals together in community to think about, and act upon, a purpose and responsibility higher than self.
As we do each year, we urge our faculty, staff and students to review the accommodations we strive to make for expressions of faith and belief on our campus and in our community. You can read more about these here:
Whether you hold close to a particular faith that is commemorating a festival or sacred event this spring or utilize other avenues of belief or knowledge to find a greater sense of meaning and purpose, we honor this season of renewal and reflection.
We are individuals with identities as varied and different as belief and perspective, gender and orientation, race and geography.
We have the responsibility and the honor to come together as a community in both recognizing and celebrating those differences, and in using them to include and welcome others in ways that advance our state and our world.
Our diversity as a community makes us stronger.
We are privileged to be part of such a special place.
Women’s History Month
Embedded in history are lessons that we can take with us, when we are willing to listen.
With Women’s History Month already underway, it’s important to reflect upon this history and the extraordinary women whose shoulders we stand upon today.
In an important sense, too, we must recognize those with us today — those like Ms. Sarah Dorpinghaus, who has been at UK since 2012 and serves as the director of Digital Strategies and Technologies at UK Libraries, helping communities protect their history.
Because of her work, we can capture bits and pieces of time, as well as our cultural heritage during pivotal events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Recently, too, we announced Dr. Danelle Stevens-Watkins, associate vice president for research, diversity and inclusion, as the new acting dean for the College of Education. She is the first woman of color to serve in this role for the College of Education — a historic moment for the college and university — and is one of two principal investigators leading a five-year, $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support underrepresented minority faculty.
And, because of the work of individuals like Dr. Sally Ellingson, assistant professor at the Institute for Biomedical Informatics in the College of Medicine, we are able to predict protein structures with novel mutations. The information can be used to study diseases that affect underrepresented sections of the population.
These women — along with so many others whose contributions continue today — are worthy of being celebrated not just this month, but every month.
As I communicated in February, members of the community had the opportunity to provide feedback on draft Work Location Guidelines — the product of more than a year of researching and exploring ideas related to remote and hybrid work.
Today, after careful review of this feedback, I am pleased to present our community with the final guidelines at this link. I want to extend my gratitude to the Work Location Workgroup, as well as the Steering Committee, for making this possible.
Because of their efforts, we will be able to balance our role as a residential campus with supporting our staff who do so much to advance Kentucky and our mission of teaching, healing, discovering and serving.
The next step in this process is for university leadership to determine position eligibility. Then, those in staff positions deemed eligible by leadership to request remote or hybrid work will be able to do so through myUK. We will, of course, continue to communicate about this process as it unfolds. As a reminder, UK HealthCare will maintain separate guidelines.
Thank you, as always, for all you do to serve our students and this state.