UT Knoxville Reiterates Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, Takes Steps to Move Forward

UT took several steps today to reiterate its commitment to diversity and inclusion while acknowledging missteps in a recent web posting about holiday party considerations for faculty and staff.

The original web posting has been replaced, recognizing that the original version did not accurately convey our message, said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.

Cheek met with Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Rickey Hall to discuss the broad goals for diversity and inclusion and to determine actions to “prevent further poorly worded communications that deter from making progress on the goals,” Cheek said.

“As an educational institution, it’s our job to listen and to learn. We are sorry that we did not communicate very well. We’ve learned a lesson from this. We want to move forward and to focus on the big picture and our goals for creating and sustaining a learning environment where all community members and all points of view are valued and respected.”

Cheek said that Hall has provided leadership that has improved the campus culture and environment.

Hall has been counseled. Oversight of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s website has been reassigned to the Vice Chancellor for Communications Margie Nichols. Nichols oversees the Office of Communications and Marketing.

“We are addressing the obstacles that may arise and take us off course so that we can continue on this important mission,” Cheek said. “While we’ve made great progress, there is still a long way to go.”

Cheek sent an e-mail to thank the campus community for their advocacy of diversity and inclusion.

“I have been both overwhelmed and encouraged by the support from our students, our faculty, and our staff. There is great momentum for shared understanding and positive dialogue as we move forward,” he said.