Published: August 04, 2021
UT Names New Chief Diversity Officer
The University of Tampa has announced that Dr. Thomas Witherspoon has been selected as the University’s new chief diversity officer.
In the position, Witherspoon will be charged with developing a diversity strategic plan to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion goals and objectives that support UT’s mission, and will lead the University’s implementation of the recommendations in the Values to Action: UT's Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report. Witherspoon will begin at UT on Monday, Aug. 30.
Witherspoon comes to UT from North Carolina State University, where he was the senior director of campus community centers — the African American Cultural Center, the Women’s Center, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Center, and the Multicultural Student Affairs.
Prior to that, Witherspoon served as vice president for diversity and inclusion at Whitman College (WA). While at Whitman, he chaired the institution’s first inclusion task force, which produced a strategic action plan for inclusion. Additionally, Witherspoon established a tri-college network with local colleges to support students, staff and faculty of color, and he established a faculty and staff learning series to address the needs of the students.
He also served as associate dean of students and director of multicultural student support services at Denison University (OH), assistant dean of undergraduate students at Dartmouth College and has held positions at KIPP National Foundation, Boston University and The Posse Foundation.
Witherspoon holds a bachelor’s degree in English writing from Denison University, a master’s degree in education from Northeastern Illinois University and a doctorate in higher education administration from New England College.
Witherspoon considers himself a scholar-practitioner. His research primarily focuses on the retention and success of men of color in higher education. His most recent presentation topics have included understanding the impact of implicit bias and building an inclusive environment.
Witherspoon will report directly to David Stern, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Stephanie Russell Krebs, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. He will also serve as a senior advisor to UT President Ronald Vaughn and will serve on senior staff.
Vaughn said Witherspoon’s depth of experience in higher education settings will be a great benefit to the University. “Thomas has made positive impacts throughout his career and is perfectly suited to build on UT’s solid foundation of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Vaughn said. “I am confident his contributions will lead to a more impactful learning environment for everyone in the UT community.”