The single “preferred” candidate for the University of Kentucky’s diversity chief has accepted the job, UK President Eli Capilouto announced Thursday.
Sonja Feist-Price accepted the role of vice president of institutional diversity after serving on the first search committee for the role. Terry Allen has served in the interim position for the past two years, after J.J. Jackson’s 2015 departure. In January, a new committee formed after Feist-Price was asked to consider applying for the job, UK officials said.
Feist-Price has been UK’s senior assistant provost for faculty affairs, and an education professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling since 2004.
The job is one of 10 that reports directly to Capilouto. The Office of Institutional Diversity oversees the Martin Luther King Center, the Office of LGBTQ services, the Center for Graduate and Professional Diversity Initiatives and Student Support Services. Feist-Price will become the second woman who reports directly to the president.
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“Dr. Feist-Price brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to this essential work, along with decades-long and heart-felt commitment to our university’s success,” Capilouto said in a campus-wide email. “Having served on the faculty of our College of Education and embracing challenging responsibilities across a wide spectrum of administrative roles, she possesses the right combination of credentials, experiences, skills and personal relationships necessary to help lead us forward to an even more welcoming and diverse campus.”
The UK Black Graduate and Professional Student Association had asked Capilouto to conduct a national search for the position after numerous forums last year at which black students expressed alienation and harassment on campus. Representatives of that group said last week that while Feist-Price was a good candidate, they were disappointed in the lack of transparency around the process.
In his email, Capilouto said UK was at a challenging point.
“Our national dialogue remains caustic across the entirety of the political spectrum; and too often results in the corrosive language of ‘us versus them’ and acts of disrespect, disregard, and malice,” Capilouto said. “Within this maelstrom, we must resolve to focus our energies and efforts on what we can control: heeding the noble call to build a welcoming and secure space where everyone is free to be intentional in expressing their identity and in expressing their personal, religious and political views — always without fear of repercussion. Let us resolve, too, that our every encounter — in our classrooms, conference rooms, and coffee shops — is defined by our sturdy and steady commitment to mutual respect and our inexhaustible search for mutual understanding.”