Listening and Leading: Dr. Katrice A. Albert’s Mission of Building Inclusive Excellence at the University of Kentucky

by savoystaff

The University of Kentucky’s Office for Institutional Diversity (OID), led by Dr. Katrice A. Albert, is the driving force in accelerating inclusive excellence on campus, in the Lexington Kentucky community and beyond.

Dr. Albert, who became the University of Kentucky’s vice president for institutional diversity in 2021, has a strong passion for and commitment to higher education, inclusion, engagement and expansion and collective impact.

“Inclusive excellence is a path for all of us,”Albert said. “Diversity, equity, inclusion, engagement, accessibility and creating a culture of belonging is everyone’s everyday work.”

Dr. Albert is a national leader with nearly 30 years of experience at some of the country’s leading institutions.

Highlights of Albert’s career in leading diversity and education efforts include:

  • Serving as the top diversity officer and senior executive at Louisiana State University, the University of Minnesota system and the NCAA, where she also led Human Resources.
  • Authoring two volumes of work around issues of race, racial equity and mental health. She is the author of a forthcoming work on leadership in intercollegiate athletics.
  • Serving on the editorial board of the Journal of Community Engagement. Albert also has been published in other academic journals related to psychology, counseling and development.
  • Teaching graduate-level courses in multicultural counseling, the politics of race and gender, and serving as an adjunct faculty member in education at LSU.
  • Consulting with some of the leading governmental, civic, religious, private, public and nonprofit sector institutions throughout the country on issues of diversity, development and strategy. Clients have included: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, American Red Cross, the Neiman Marcus Group and the Universities of Notre Dame, Nebraska, West Florida and Central Florida.

That experience proved valuable for the leader’s arrival at UK, where she was charged with engaging hundreds of community members across campus to best incorporate inclusive excellence throughout Kentucky’s land-grant, flagship university. These groups had already started work on 17 initiatives that embed into UK’s culture and systems this commitment to diversity, equity, justice and inclusion.

“We are about the business of action and implementing these important university initiatives and embedding them into the very fabric of UK,”Albert said.“We want to do more and be more for every citizen of the Commonwealth.

Therefore, we must attract, recruit, hire, retain, support and promote the best and brightest top diverse talent that we can.    And the way in which we do that is by our dedication to an  ‘experience economy’ — cultivating a community that is understanding, gracious and kind — a community that contributes to the absolute radical personal and professional well-being of everyone.”

Some 500 members of the UK community engaged in these initiatives, ranging from investments in research around structural racism issues to creating more diverse and accessible spaces, places and facilities across the campus.

The excitement is translating into action. From expanding the institution’s supplier diversity purchasing program to position local diverse businesses for success, to engaging in consequential research centered around racial equity, many of these initiatives are up and running. Dr. Albert attributes much of this early success to the fact that there are many voices at the table.

“In my two years at UK, I committed to making bona fide connections across campus, the Lexington community and across the Commonwealth. Every day when I discuss the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) implementation plan with new friends and colleagues, asking intellectual and heartfelt questions, I know I will gain a new piece of the puzzle that I didn’t know before, “Albert said. “I often say, ‘you just never know who may hold the keys to the kingdom.’ And to be afforded the opportunity to involve and engage so many of us in our important work to advance Kentucky is, in my estimation, a crowning achievement.”

The key, says Albert, is teamwork – across colleges, departments, offices, academic disciplines and town-gown (community-university) relations.

“We all must work together,” said Albert. “There is a method and a movement – a groundswell of people trying to bring their very best selves in a unified front. We get nowhere alone. I believe that it’s going to take all of us to get us to the place where we all feel like we’re contributing to the culture we all deserve.”

It is that philosophy that supports UK’s Office for Institutional Diversity’s mission to empower all and create a sustainable, equitable climate where everyone can benefit from the highest quality education, care and work environment.

Everybody deserves to love the University of Kentucky and we will not stop until we bring that to fruition.

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