As the semester comes to a close, we want to update you on some of the specific actions being taken to help create a welcoming campus environment for all.
On April 25 and 26, the Anti-Defamation League came to campus to conduct a series of educational sessions for administrators, faculty, staff, and students about combating racism and hate speech. Leaders from the city of Knoxville and Knox County joined the chancellor’s cabinet on April 25 for one of the sessions. We are continuing next week with Inclusive Solutions. They will present recommendations and conduct cultural competency education May 6 and 7 in a series of workshops for administrators, faculty, and staff, including a session specifically for the cabinet on Monday morning.
We understand that education around cultural competency and inclusion needs to be sustained over time to be effective in creating an environment that best supports our success. Other educational initiatives are in progress for university employees:
- Inclusive Teaching Certificate
- Inclusive Leadership Academy
- Intercultural Development Inventory Training
- Advising Community Education
As new Volunteers arrive on campus for orientation this summer, updated programming will incorporate a greater emphasis on cultural competency education, and that emphasis will continue through Welcome Week and into First-Year Studies. Faculty across campus are preparing for the updated general education requirements passed by the Faculty Senate in March, which will incorporate global citizenship courses when they go into effect in 2021.
A group formed to review the Student Code of Conduct has begun its work and is committed to working through the summer to come to a recommendation. The group is co-chaired by Melanie Wilson, dean of the College of Law, and Frank Cuevas, associate vice chancellor for student life, and includes representation from students, faculty, and staff. You can find a list of committee members at belong.utk.edu.
Efforts also include ongoing intergroup dialogue sessions and other work to better understand and address the campus climate; creation of faculty and student advisory groups specifically for diversity and engagement; ongoing efforts to support the work of our commissions and council; and efforts to recruit, support, and retain the best faculty, staff, and students to cultivate a diverse and welcoming environment.
The provost’s office is committed to working with deans to foster representative and welcoming environments. All colleges will be creating specific college-level diversity plans and reporting progress under those plans. In addition, new and existing faculty will undergo diversity education.
These efforts and more are a shared responsibility—no single person can do them alone. We recognize that it takes resources to support this work and have prioritized the addition of professional staff to work with the interim vice chancellor for diversity and engagement. The entire cabinet is committed to and accountable for seeing these priorities through in order to create and support a culture of respect and success for all Volunteers.
We wish everyone the best during finals and in the last days of the academic year.
Wayne T. Davis
Interim Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement