Skip to content
Plant Hall
Values to Action

Recommending ways to enhance efforts by benchmarking campus diversity, equity and inclusion practices; contributing to the development of a diversity statement; collaborating in curricular and co-curricular diversity efforts; and reviewing programs at similar institutions.

A message from President Vaughn:

On June 1, James MacLeod, chair of UT’s Board of Trustees, Stephanie Russell Krebs, David Stern and I sent a message expressing our outrage at the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury, Nina Pop and others. We reaffirmed the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and to combatting racism in all its forms. Our message acknowledged that we need to further exemplify our core values.

Since that time, we have met twice with a group of faculty and staff who authored a letter about diversity matters, and also with the student-focused Dean of Students Diversity Advisory Group. We listened and discussed views on actions that we might consider taking. Those conversations were fruitful. I am writing today to give an update on important actions UT is taking and next steps for the coming year.  

The first step is to emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion at an institutional level. To this end, I have appointed Drs. Krebs and Stern as co-chief diversity officers. They already co-lead the Diversity Advisory Group, and both are committed to diversity and social justice.

I will also appoint a Diversity Working Group — led by Krebs and Stern — that will consist of faculty, staff and student representatives. A call for nominations and self-nominations will be issued soon. The charge will be manifold, including creating an inventory of UT’s curricular and co-curricular diversity efforts, benchmarking diversity, equity and inclusion practices and programs at other similar institutions, helping to develop a diversity statement for UT, and recommending ways that UT could enhance its diversity, inclusion and racial equity efforts.

While we have a variety of on-going diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, services and activities in place, several new action steps have been initiated. These include:

Training Opportunities

  • Plans are underway for a special session for the Senior Staff and deans focused on diversity, inclusion and equity.
  • Diversity workshops for Baccalaureate Experience faculty and mentors and for other faculty through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) are scheduled. These workshops will be led by Sabrina Griffith, director of Student Care and Advocacy and leader of UT’s Bias Education Resource Team (BERT).
  • Continuation of bias training for Campus Safety, and a plan to expand opportunities for bias training to the broader campus.

Of note, more than 25 staff and faculty members participated this summer in a 10-week Sustained Dialogue series. This series taught the participants how to build spaces for challenging conversations about issues that matter and how to create meetings where talking about big issues are celebrated.

Human Resources Programs

  • Human Resources’ search process improvements are underway, including a UT employment dashboard that will provide interview resources, diversity ad placement resources and recruiting guidelines. The staff will also host a presentation on building a more inclusive search that addresses unconscious bias.
  • Human Resources training on diversity in the workplace and Title IX training will be coming this fall.

Center for Teaching and Learning Initiatives

  • Creation of a new Diversity and Inclusion website dedicated to resources on diversity and inclusion for faculty.
  • First Year Experience courses will devote two weeks to discussion of diversity and inclusion, and first-year students will have the opportunity to sign a diversity pledge.

Diversity and Inclusion

Student Programs

  • The First Year Experience (FYE) and Office of Orientation and Family Engagement collaborated to launch a virtual book club on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
  • The Dean of Students Diversity Advisory Group is reading Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race, and will discuss it this fall.

Diversity Opportunities

Athletics

  • Jennifer Alger, senior woman administrator in the Athletic Department, has been named the diversity and inclusion liaison and is the point of communication between the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national office and the UT athletic department.

Admissions and Recruitment

  • UT became fully SAT/ACT test optional for 2021 admissions. We believe this will enhance the diversity of the student body and will provide for greater access and inclusion.
  • UT works with community-based organizations (CBOs) to provide access and opportunity to first-generation and minority students. Every UT admissions counselor works with several CBOs, and this summer the Office of Admissions appointed a counselor that manages our CBO initiatives with 390 different CBOs.
  • New since July, UT is one of only 10 schools that are part of a Coalition for College pilot program. This program is designed to provide access and free college search tools for 200,000 under-represented high school freshmen and sophomores.
  • This summer admissions created an inclusion video, We Are Spartans, that affirms our commitment to combating racism and discrimination. The video has been shared with prospective students and is posted on the UT website.


Core Task Force

The nominations process yielded a significant amount of interest from community members, and we are happy to announce the core task force and subcommittee membership.

Lonnie Bryant
Faculty, Finance

Claire Cilien
Student, Resident Assistant, Black Student Union

Sabrina Griffith
Staff, Student Care and Advocacy

Art Goon
Staff, Graduate Admissions

Leander Hamilton
Staff, Human Resources

Arthur Hollist
Faculty, English, Faculty Community Engagement and Responsible Citizenship Committee

Stephanie Russell Krebs
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Hannah Lammon
Student, Dean of Students Diversity Advisory Group member

Ana Maia
Staff, Leadership and Engagement

Marte Marshall
Student, Graduate Assistant for Retention Initiatives

Brian Spencer
Graduate Student

David Stern
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

J Sumerau
Faculty, Sociology

Adrianne Wilson
Faculty, Education, Faculty Diversity Committee

Task Force Subcommittees and Chairs

Curricular Inventory

  • Arthur Hollist, Chair, Faculty, English and Writing
  • Gary Luter, Faculty, Theatre and Dance
  • Destiny Lane, Student
  • Abigail Hall, Student
  • Karla Borja, Faculty, Economics

Co-Curricular Inventory

  • Ana Maia, Chair, Staff, Leadership and Engagement
  • Erika Buckley, Staff, Leadership and Engagement   
  • Molly Butters, Staff, Career Services
  • Hannah Lammon, Student
  • Michelle Mooney, Student
  • Brian Spencer, Student

Campus Climate                  

  • Adrianne Wilson, Chair, Faculty, Education
  • Jen Wortham, Faculty, Health Sciences and Human Performance
  • Sangbum Ro, Faculty, Management
  • Alisha Menzies, Faculty, Communication
  • Claire Cilien, Student
  • Isaiah Stephens, Student
  • Lonnie Bryant, Faculty, Finance
  • Haydn Rubelmann, Staff, Biology

Benchmarking

  • J Sumerau, Chair, Faculty, Sociology
  • Autumn Brucato, Staff, International Programs
  • Anthony Dodd, Student
  • Rachel Killam, Staff, Career Development and Engagement
  • Stephanie Russell Krebs, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students 

DEI Practices

  • Art Goon, Chair, Staff, Enrollment
  • Jen Alger, Staff, Athletics
  • Kelsey San Antonio, Staff, Human Resources
  • Paula Pack, Staff, Retention Initiatives
  • Marte Marshall, Student
  • David Stern, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

UT as a Workplace

  • Leander Hamilton, Chair, Staff, Human Resources
  • Cheri Etling-Paulsen, Faculty, Finance, Teaching and Learning
  • Sabrina Griffith, Staff, Operations and Planning
  • Dai Holmes, Staff, Enrollment Management
  • Jay Langdoc, Staff, Information Technology and Security

Questions? Please email diversitytaskforce@ut.edu.