November 10, 2009 — Karen E. Holt, former director of the University of Virginia's Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, died Oct. 27 in Knoxville. She was 54.
A native of Paducah, Ky., she spent the majority of her career fulfilling her passion for public service, civil rights and civic engagement. She was an assistant vice president of the Institute for Public Service at the University of Tennessee at the time of her death. In addition to leading U.Va.'s EOP from 1997 to 2003, Holt had previously served as director of the Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia (2006-2008), executive director of Project Pericles in New York (2003-2005), associate general counsel at UT (1985-1995) and attorney with the Civil and Civil Rights Divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. (1983-1985).
She was also an impassioned teacher of courses on American Government and Administrative Law at UT, and the Law of Higher Education at U.Va.
Holt's interest in improving equal opportunity policy led her to accept the position as director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs at U.Va. in 1997. In collaboration with her staff and University faculty, Holt revised equal employment opportunity policies, procedures and outreach to enhance equality and access throughout the University.
Describing her time at U.Va., one of her colleagues wrote: "During our years working together, her wisdom and kindness meant the most to me; she taught me about coping, about strength and about hope. We are still building on the foundation she created at EOP. Her impact on the University was extraordinary."
A memorial service will be held Nov. 22 from 2-4 p.m. at the Knoxville Botanical Garden, 2743 Wimpole Ave., Knoxville, Tenn. Donations may be made to the Jeannette Rankin Foundation at www.rankinfoundation.org or Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund, 1 Huntington Road, Suite 701, Athens, GA., 30606.