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The University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities is exploring the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in its most recent interview with retired Judge Jennifer Coffman on “Over Yonder: Conversations with Artists and Scholars on Social Distancing.” Ginsburg is considered the "architect of the legal fight for women's rights."

This is a special episode of “Over Yonder” recorded with Coffman just days after the death of the beloved justice. Normally, the podcast series features the center’s director, Melynda Price, interviewing Kentucky artists, musicians and scholars on their quarantine experience.  

A UK alumna who holds a bachelor's degree in English, a master's degree in library science and a juris doctor, Coffman was appointed United States district judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky on Oct. 22,1993, and elevated to chief judge of the Eastern District of Kentucky on Oct. 15, 2007. The first female to hold either of those positions within the Commonwealth, she retired from the federal district bench on Jan. 9, 2013. Coffman was appointed in 2011 to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees requests by the United States national security community for surveillance of suspected foreign intelligence agents. She retired from this position in January 2013.

The Gaines Center launched “Over Yonder” in the summer of 2020 with an interview of award-winning writer Crystal Wilkinson, associate professor in the Department of English, the Program in African American and Africana Studies and the UK Appalachian Center in the College of Arts and Sciences. Price (with technical support from her 10-year-old son James) and Associate Director Chelsea Brislin have completed 10 interviews to date. To watch the Coffman interview and other episodes of "Over Yonder" visit online here. 

Founded in 1984 by a generous gift from John and Joan Gaines, the Gaines Center for the Humanities functions as a laboratory for imaginative and innovative education on UK's campus. Part of the Division of Student and Academic Life, the center is devoted to cultivating an appreciation of the humanities in its students and faculty. The Gaines Center embraces varied paths of knowledge and particularly strives to integrate creative work with traditional academic learning.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.

By Whitney Hale
Sept. 22, 2020