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UK is embarking on a large-scale DEI planning effort that spans many facets of the campus. Sasaki’s planning effort will focus specifically on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the built environment.

Sasaki urban planning principal Mary Anne Ocampo is leading the Sasaki team. Ocampo brings a unique perspective to the project—in addition to working on a campus master plan in 2012, UK is her alma mater, and she is very familiar with the campus and the surrounding community in Lexington, Kentucky.

Ocampo also serves as the chair of the Sasaki Foundation, a non-profit organization with the goal of promoting equity in design. The Sasaki Foundation sponsors research and programs that use design to empower communities and strengthen education. Sasaki designers partner with the Foundation as volunteers in their research and youth education programs to offer their expertise and mentorship. For several years, Ocampo has worked alongside the Sasaki Foundation to make the design industry more equitable. 

Although advancing equity is a theme that runs through much of Ocampo’s work as an urban designer, she is excited to begin working on a large-scale campus planning effort that brings DEI to the forefront.

“This is a new frontier for us,” says Ocampo. “The University of Kentucky is breaking new ground with an Implementation Plan that centers on diversity, equity, and inclusion. While the University has a robust planning process that will focus on policies, programming, and research, Sasaki will focus on the physical campus environment with the DEI Framework Plan.”

As stated in UK’s announcement, over the next several months, Sasaki will, among other initiatives, complete:

  • A listening tour and focused discussions with stakeholders across the campus.
  • A campus-wide survey.
  • An inventory of campus art and civic landscapes.
  • Presentations to campus constituencies regarding key findings.
  • The development of opportunities for transformation and change on the campus in response to the issues and concerns identified by the campus community as well as the opportunities and recommendations noted.
  • A recommended DEI vision and plan by summer 2021.

Sasaki has recently completed an accessible design strategy for the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) campus. 

“Our built environment can reflect our social values if there are intentional processes, critical thinking, and equity literacy integrated into our planning,” says Ocampo. “As we have heard from the UK community, “an inclusive environment isn’t just about physical space–it’s about making space for each other.”