Faculty of Color Network Hosts First Gala to Celebrate Diversity in Medicine

The University of Kentucky College of Medicine hosted its first annual Faculty of Color Network gala on Friday, Oct. 18. The gala, themed Undeniable, Uncompromising, Unstoppable: Celebrating Diversity in Medicine and the Community, was held at The Campbell House in Lexington, Ky. 

To celebrate this historical event, there was an array of gala attendees, from students, faculty, and employees at the University and college to community members and representatives from local organizations. Each guest contributed to the sense of community that was felt at the event. Notable attendees included UK President Eli Capilouto; Sonja Feist-Price, DRh, PhD, vice president of the Office for Institutional Diversity; and Michael Rowland, PhD, associate dean for faculty development in the College of Medicine.

During his remarks, President Capilouto expressed an acknowledgement of the sense of warmth and the welcoming energy he felt in the room. He also noted that during his time he had not yet been to an event like this sponsored by a UK college or unit.

Support for the Faculty of Color Network gala was broad and encompassed donations from several college departments, including family and community medicine, pediatrics, neurology, pharmacology and nutritional sciences, psychiatry, and radiology; the College of Nursing; Center for Health Equity and Transformation; the Office of the Vice President for Institutional Diversity; and community organizations such as Bluegrass Care Navigators, Novelis, and WesBanco.

With the resounding commitment for the inaugural event, the Faculty of Color Network sold over 200 tickets to the gala. As a result of this tremendous support and to be in line with this year’s theme, the Faculty of Color Network chose to contribute a portion of the gala proceeds to the UK Center for Graduate and Professional Diversity Initiatives, a campus organization, and The Nest Center for Women, Children, and Families, an organization dedicated to improving lives of community members in the Bluegrass Region.

This event was also an opportunity to celebrate the University’s 70th year of integration, which commemorates Lyman T. Johnson being the first African-American to attend UK, as well as a chance to recognize leaders in the College of Medicine for their impact in medicine.

Those leaders included Marian A. Swope, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry, who was honored during the gala as a “Pioneering Physician” for her more than 30 years of achievement in the field of medicine. A UK alumna, Dr. Swope’s leadership includes serving as director for the child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship program, overseeing its administration, and supervising fellows, residents, and medical students. She was also a trailblazer in providing telepsychiatry services to youth in juvenile justice settings. Additionally, Jean Branttie, a doctoral candidate in the department of molecular and cellular biochemistry, was recognized during the event as an “Emerging Scholar” for her passion and drive to play a role in solving public health concerns.

Gala organizers, Sylvia Ofei, MD, and Brittany Smalls, PhD, both say they intended for the gala to be an event for members of the UK family and community to come together to celebrate diversity and to build better relationships among community members.

“The event was really about bringing a sense of belonging and community to the University,” said Dr. Ofei. “The turnout really encapsulated everything we were trying to accomplish.”

President Capilouto’s enthusiasm about the event was evident during his speech when he urged attendees to buy their tickets early for next year.

Needless to say, the gala is here to stay and diversity is truly being celebrated here at the University of Kentucky and the College of Medicine.

Click here for a full album of photos from the 2019 event.