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UT Community Converges to Advance Diversity Agenda

Category: Employees

KNOXVILLE — 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.

The diversity summit agenda and speaker biographies are available on the event website at The summit will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Murfreesboro.

Media interested in attending are welcome but are asked to make arrangements in advance.


Gina Stafford, (865) 974-0741,

Ellie Amador, (865) 974-1177,


UT’s System-wide Diversity Statement:
One of the principal missions of the University of Tennessee is to provide quality educational opportunities for the people of this state. One measure of the quality of an educational experience is the extent to which it enables the recipient to compete and be productive in society and contribute to the quality of life. The Board of Trustees recognizes that diversity in the educational environment, including an outstanding and diverse student body, faculty, and staff, and an environment conducive to learning, adds value to the educational experience and the degree earned. Interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives augments the curricular experience and affords every student the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be a productive and contributing citizen of this state and nation, capable of competing in a global society. Thus, diversity is fundamental to a sound, twenty-first century education.

The Board affirms the educational value of a diverse and fully inclusive campus community, one that is enriched by persons of different backgrounds, points of view, cultures, socioeconomic status, and other diverse characteristics. The Board expects the University to engage in a variety of initiatives to advance diversity in all aspects of University life.

System-wide Statistics

Percentage of Undergraduate Students Who are of a Minority Race

  • Increased 3.5 percent over last 5 years
  • 2010: 15.8 percent; 2014: 19.3 percent

Percentage of Faculty and Staff Who are of a Minority Race

  • 18.2 percent in fall 2014

Percentage of Staff Who are of a Minority Race

  • Increased 2.1 percent over last 5 years
  • 2010: 17.1 percent; 2014: 19.2 percent

Percentage of Faculty Who are of a Minority Race

  • Increased 2 percent over last 5 years
  • 2010: 14.1 percent; 2014: 16.1 percent

*Figures include all full-, part-time and temporary UT employees; Minority is defined as being of either African American, Latino/a, Native American/Alaskan Native, Asian or multi-racial descent

More about UT’s Diversity Advisory Council:

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Category: Employees