Pioneering retired dean at UK honored on her birthday


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Dr. Retia Walker, the first African-American female dean at the University of Kentucky, was honored Sunday by her family and friends with a drive-by parade on her 80th birthday.

She was supposed to be on a cruise for this milestone birthday, just like she had done when she turned 60-and-70, but the coronavirus changed those plans.

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Instead of being on the water or in-port at some exotic location, she was on her front porch as members of her church at St. Paul AME, drove by honking and waving from a safe social distance.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton proclaimed Sunday, June 21, 2020, as ‘Dr. Retia S. Walker Day’ in honor of the pioneering woman who was inducted into the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame in 2017.

“This is special.  A special day.  So, just watch out, ten years from now I’ll be celebrating my 90th birthday.  You’ll be back,” says Dr. Walker.

She retired from the university in 2005 as the Vice President for Academic Outreach and Public Service.

To learn more about Dr. Walker’s remarkable life, click here.


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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at You can also follow Tom on Facebook and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.