UT Community Converges to Advance Diversity Agenda

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UT Diversity Summit logo

University of Tennessee employees from every part of the state are coming together in support of creating more diverse learning and working environments through a first-ever, University-wide summit on Wednesday in Murfreesboro.

The one-day training and best practice showcase is an example of UT’s enhanced focus on diversity and shared belief in the value of a diverse and fully inclusive campus community that is enriched by people of different backgrounds, points of view, cultures and characteristics.

“Advancing diversity goes beyond recruiting students and hiring employees who are diverse. It’s about being unified in the belief that everything we’re working to achieve is made better when enriched by the contributions of diverse faculty, staff and students,” said UT President Joe DiPietro.

More than 140 faculty and staff are expected to participate in the summit hosted by UT’s Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) and led by senior leaders, researchers and practitioners from around the country. Keynote speakers and sessions include:

  • Lendley Black, chancellor at the University of Minnesota Duluth: The importance of leadership in driving diversity and inclusion
  • Bridget Kelly, associate professor, Loyola University Chicago: What does diversity really mean?
  • Anitra Cottledge, director of communications for equity and diversity at the University of Minnesota: Effective communication strategies that demonstrate a commitment to diversity
  • Joe Miles, assistant professor of counseling psychology at UT Knoxville: The psychological dimensions that must be considered in developing a climate reflective of diverse cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds
  • Timothy Pippert, associate professor of sociology: Creating diversity and the commodification of race in college recruitment materials
  • Alvin Evans, human resources and diversity consultant with HigherEd Talent: The role of accountability in creating inclusive campus communities

“Regardless of our work, as employees we share responsibility and each have the ability to advance diversity and inclusion in our departments,” said Noma Anderson, chair of DAC and dean of the UT Health Science Center College of Health Professions. “I hope attendees will gain a better understanding of diversity and benefit from the discussions with and best practices shared by our colleagues.”

UT’s Diversity Advisory Council was formed in 2010 to advise the UT System president on:

  • How to be effective and efficient in the recruitment, retention and graduation of a more diverse student population
  • Recruiting and retaining a more diverse faculty and staff
  • Development and implementation of performance measurements for the purpose of accountability, and other matters relating to diversity as necessary

At DAC’s recommendation, UT recently updated its system-wide diversity statement, defined and collected demographic data on faculty, staff and students, and is implementing a new purchasing system that allows for increased solicitation of minority vendors. UT also is making progress toward incorporating diversity into accountability measures for campus and institute leadership, creating diversity councils at each location and reviewing the usage of diversity funding statewide.