Employee Affinity Groups gather for annual advance By Ryan Girves
The Office for Institutional Diversity (OID) recently hosted an Employee Affinity Group (EAG) Advance. The goal of the day was to gather as one, discuss progress and how EAGs can continue to grow on campus in the future.
An EAG is a group of faculty and staff linked by a common purpose, ideology or interest. At the University of Kentucky, EAGs play a vital role in ensuring an inclusive environment where all are valued, included and empowered to succeed.
“The EAG Advance was an opportunity to revitalize and elevate an already existing structure that was embedded here at UK,” Jason Brooks, executive director for institutional engagement, said. “The advance provided a new perspective on how our affinity groups can better serve and uplift our campus community.”
There are currently seven EAGs on campus: The African American, African, Native Indigenous Affinity Group; Hispanic/Latinx Affinity Group; LGBTQIA+ Affinity Group; Muslim Affinity Group; Asian/Asian American Affinity Group; Disabilities Affinity Group; and the Veterans Affinity Group. The objective of each is to build and create a sense of community, advocate for and support the recruitment, retention and advancement of faculty and staff; advocate for and support the recruitment, retention and graduation of students; and network and collaborate.
“Caring for our people, a pillar of the university DEI implementation plan, involves the continued cultivation of spaces on campus where community members feel safe and can authentically thrive,” Kendriana Price, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and group leader for The African American, African, Native Indigenous Affinity Group, said. “I believe EAGs intentionally foster such spaces that transcend the barriers of our units and departments that brings folx together to sustain a sense of community and belonging. EAGs also promote the fellowship across campus that can serve as the springboard for innovation and a renewed commitment to serving our students and community in a culturally responsive manner that is relevant to today.”
The advance began with a welcome and introduction from Katrice Albert, UK vice president for OID, followed by an icebreaker led by John Mays, equitable business consultant. The advance also included a number of breakout sessions focused on the operational structure of affinity groups, longevity and wellness among EAGs and engagement among groups and foundational development.
“People want to be seen, heard and valued. No statement rings truer than that shared with us by our facilitator John Mays,” Price said. “As momentum grows in expanding our groups for greater participation across campus, the foundational thought and spirit of being seen, heard and valued must carry through all current and future endeavors.”
The day ended with next steps and closing remarks from Albert, leaving attendees feeling inspired and empowered to blaze forward with a common purpose.
“The advance was truly about taking care of our people, in this particular case our faculty and staff,” Brooks said. “Our affinity group leaders are excited about how their mission and purposes will affect the community culture and sense of belonging here at the University of Kentucky in the upcoming months.”
EAGs at the university are open to all UK employees. To learn more about EAGs, click here.