Gregory and Kimberly Vincent

Dr. Gregory Vincent and his wife, Ms. Kimberly Vincent

By: Nealy Williams, J.D.

Dedicated public servants Dr. Gregory Vincent, an acclaimed civil rights attorney, professor in the UK College of Education and Executive Director of the college’s Education and Civil Rights Initiative, and spouse, Ms. Kimberly Vincent, an attorney in private practice and the recipient of the prestigious Yellow Rose of Texas award in recognition of her public service, discuss their gift of scholarships to support the next generation of educators and civil rights servant-leaders.

Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark 1954 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the court held racially segregated public schools are unconstitutional, in part, because such schools deprive students of equal educational opportunities. In the 67 years since the case was decided, the American education system, and America itself, have undergone substantial changes. Nevertheless, Dr. Gregory Vincent and Ms. Kimberly Vincent believe there is much work that needs to be done to achieve the promises of Brown v. Board of Education.

“We live in this great country, yet we still have challenges, some of them around exclusion,” said Dr. Vincent. “We know that, unfortunately, for a host of reasons including systemic racism and socioeconomic issues, not every child has [equitable access to education], and I think the best thing we can do to strengthen our country is to ensure that every child has that access and opportunity.”

The events of 2020 have served as an important reminder to the Vincents of the nation-strengthening that still needs to be done. Ms. Vincent reflected, “If this past year has taught us anything, it is that there is so much work that needs to be done. I think we each have to find whatever way that we can to make some sort of an impact; we all have gifts, we all have talents, we can use our voices in different ways to help make a difference. There’s a lot to do.”

The Vincents are using their gifts and talents to make the promises of Brown v. Board of Education attainable, in part, by creating scholarships for students in the College of Education’s Education and Civil Rights Initiative, a ground-breaking collaboration between the University of Kentucky College of Education and the NAACP. The program, housed in the college’s Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation, educates the next generation of servant-leaders on issues including educational equity, civil rights and social justice. The initiative will particularly emphasize study on race-based discrimination and students who are marginalized based on ability, gender, ethnicity, age, class, religion, sexuality and other markers.

The Gregory and Kimberly Vincent Education Civil Rights Initiative Scholarship serves as an homage to past support the couple received and a prayer for the future generations of civil rights servant-leaders. “The ability to support young people and help them meet their dreams, regardless of cost, is important to my philanthropy,” said Dr. Vincent. “I was so fortunate to go to school for free through college, law and graduate school. I know that affordability is a huge issue for students, and with Kim's support, I have been able to pay back my scholarship[s].”

The way the Vincents structured their gift, which funds the scholarship by giving some now (outright gift) for current use and some later (deferred gift) to create an endowment, further demonstrates their commitment to future servant-leaders.

The Vincents included the deferred endowed component in their estate plans because, “We believe in sustainability, and we wanted to send a message that the Education and Civil Rights Initiative is going to be around for a long time. We wanted our support and advocacy to be there, not just for right now, but for generations to come.”

“Dr. and Ms. Vincent’s gift is both timely and timeless,” said UK College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig. “Having a civil rights and education initiative at the University of Kentucky…is especially meaningful [and] is an important step for the university to take a leadership role in ensuring all students, locally and nationally, have access to a high-quality education where they feel safe and supported.”

You can join the Vincents and help make a difference, too. Consider serving UK students by contributing to the Vincents’ scholarship, making your own gift that benefits the college or unit of your choice or finding ways to volunteer at the University. To learn more about giving opportunities, contact Gift and Estate Planning at giftandestate@uky.edu or (859) 257-7886.