introducing the University of Kentucky’s first National Book Award winner, Professor Nikky Finney.
The Board gave Professor Finney a round of applause.
Professor Finney thanked President Capilouto for the invitation to attend the meeting and said
it was a great honor. She also thanked Dean Kombluh for his kind words, and Dr. Marion Rust for the
support ofthe English Department.
Professor Finney gave the following remarks to the Board:
When I was l7 years old and an undergraduate at a small Alabama, historically black college, I
dreamed of being a poet. I would go to the library every day because the library was the
heartbeat ofthe campus. And on the shelf; I would find any book that had to do with poetry, with
literature, and with art, and I would read it until I could memorize some of the things there.
Itell you this story because one ofthe joumals on those shelves was a book called Cc1llc1l00
Journczl, which was based at the University of Kentucky in the l970s. I have this saying that the
world is round. It is not because some explorer told us but because I live my life in a way that I
believe things come back to me if I put them out into the world. And sure enough, after ten or l5
years, after that moment, I became an instructor at the University of Kentucky, it happened.
Cc1llc1l00 Journczl has gone to John Hopkins, but I will never forget the impact that it had on me as
a l7 year old trying to figure out how to become a poet and sort of living that life in a sort of an
autodidactic way, finding my way piece by piece and person to person. That joumal made a huge
impact on me as a freshman and as a novelist poet. Ithank you for supporting C c1llc1l00 Journczl
30 years ago and for putting art, culture, and poetry on the map in Kentucky at that time. I don’t
ever want to see you lose that touch with art and literature and all the things that make us who we
are as human beings.
I also want to say that I never intended to win the National Book Award. I just wanted to write a
poem in the most beautiful, powerful way that I possibly could. The National Book Award is an
added benefit. One ofthe beautiful things that is happening now, and I said this at the College of
Arts and Sciences reception, is that even though I walk through the door, it seems 10,000 people
or more walk with me. I get warm bread on my doorstep and flowers. It has just been an
abundance of goodwill after having won the award and that has to do with poetry and with art and
how poetry and art speaks to the human heart. No matter who wins the award, we all win. And
so, Ithank you this moming. I hope you enjoy this fourth collection of words. There will be
more coming up the pike, I hope, and Ithank you for your attention.
President Capilouto, it is nice to meet you and may your tenure here be long and wondrous.
Professor Finney received another round of applause.
I. Appointment of Dean of the Gatton College of Business and Economics (PR 3)
President Capilouto said it was a distinct pleasure to recommend the appointment ofthe dean
ofthe Gatton College of Business and Economics. Dr. David Blackwell will begin his appointment