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The leaders of Kentucky’s two largest public universities have, with differing degrees of directness, spoken out in recent days about the importance of diversity as state legislators consider measures that would ban diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at public institutions.

In a message last week to students and others at the University of Kentucky, President Eli Capilouto said that three bills working their way through the state General Assembly (two related to diversity and inclusion and a third focused on faculty employment) threaten the research university’s core mission.

“As the University of Kentucky’s president, let me be clear: I am opposed to the legislation regarding both DEI and tenure. I have voiced my stance in a manner that I hope is respectful and thoughtful. I will continue to do so,” he said. Capilouto acknowledged that the public statement was unusual: “We don’t speak as an institution on public policy unless the issues will impact our entire community in potentially significant ways. This is one of those moments.”

Kim Schatzel, president of the University of Louisville, sent a letter Monday that emphasized the importance of DEI efforts at the university but did not directly refer to the legislation in question, WDRB reported.  

“I strongly believe that you cannot deliver a high-quality university education without a diverse classroom and campus—inclusive of all demographics, identities and ideologies,” the radio station quoted Schatzel as saying in the letter. “Only in such circumstances and with such experiences will our students be prepared to foster their own and others’ excellence in a diverse global economy. In short, a diverse and inclusive campus better prepares our students to lead.”