Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity



Immigrant Legal Literacy Project

Karla McKanders at Centro HispanoKarla McKanders, a fellow at UT’s Center for the Study of Social Justice in the Migration and Refugee Studies group, was recently awarded a SEED grant through UT’s Office of Research and Engagement. The grant sponsors the Immigrant Legal Literacy Project, which she believes will help bring attention to the needs of the immigrant community. McKanders is an associate professor in the College of Law.

“Through our project, people are provided information to understand how the immigration system works,” McKanders stated. “People are beginning to think of forms of relief for which they are eligible. Tennessee has experienced an increase in its immigrant population. The state needs more immigration attorneys.”

The Immigrant Legal Literacy Project is a partnership between the Immigration Clinic at the UT College of Law and the community organization Centro Hispano. The project is designed to identify and support the legal needs of immigrants in Knoxville and surrounding areas. As part of the project, Centro hosts Saturday clinics where law students and local attorneys assist roughly thirty clients with asylum, special immigrant, and juvenile cases.

“Just to talk to a lawyer with experience in a place where they are familiar is comforting,” said Efraim Rodriquez, program coordinator at Centro Hispano. “We are empowering individuals and giving them tools to be active members of society.”

The project gives UT students diverse learning experiences, preparing them for a career in immigration law. Students are able to help with the intake process and serve as translators.

Centro’s next clinic will be held on Saturday, March 15. Students interested in volunteering can contact McKanders at mckande@utk.edu.


BETS Program Prepares Business Leaders

When Tyvi Small came to the University of Tennessee from South Florida in 2007, he came to a new position as coordinator of diversity initiatives in the College of Business Administration. He knew he had work to do, but Small rose to the challenge.BETS Class 2013

“One of our key objectives is to increase the recruitment and retention of diverse students pursuing business degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said Small, now director of the Office of Diversity and Community Relations in the College of Business Administration.

With this mission in mind, he helped develop the Business Education for Talented Students (BETS) program.

The BETS program is a one-week residential program designed to introduce high school juniors to the business majors offered at UT. During the week, students interact with diverse business professionals and learn the nuts and bolts of developing business proposals.

“We wanted to bring in underrepresented students who are high achievers and get them to start thinking about UT and studying business. But we also want them to have fun in the program.”

Since the start of the program in 2008, BETS has welcomed more than 150 students. While interest in the program continues to grow, the program limits its participation to roughly thirty students. Small explains, “Keeping these numbers allows the program to keep its intimacy.”

This intimacy helps him stay close to all the participants and serve as an advisor to each student. Additionally, the Office of Diversity and Community Relations strives to serve as career counselors to BETS graduates.

“Our first class of participants have gone off to become business owners, entrepreneurs, law students, and international MBA students,” said Small. “We prepare them for real-world experiences.”


Council for Diversity & Interculturalism

Tyvi Small & Tyler JohnsonThe Council for Diversity and Interculturalism understands the importance of championing diversity at UT. CDI helps the UT community plan ways to advance diversity, and they want to recognize UT’s achievements.

“We have created an award to recognize offices and units that are advancing diversity and inclusion,” said Tyvi Small, co-chair for the council. The Diversity and Interculturalism Unit Excellence Award will be given out at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet.

The award recognizes leadership in championing diversity, and the CDI serves as an example of this leadership. The chancellor appointed the council to advise the campus administration on creating and sustaining a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive campus climate. Their mission includes attracting, retaining, and graduating students from historically underrepresented populations and international students, and ensuring that undergraduate curricular requirements include significant intercultural perspectives. They also work to attract and retain faculty and staff from underrepresented populations.

In the effort to fulfill its mission, CDI requested that campus departments submit updated diversity plans. These diversity plans are blueprints for advancing diversity across campus. From the responses, the council put together a summary identifying best practices, key themes, and challenges to promoting diversity. Of course, champions for diversity are always proactive in building their blueprints. For this reason, the council, along with the vice chancellor for diversity, will continually update and enhance diversity plans across campus.

“The CDI aids in the creation of diversity plans and is a resource for all students, staff, and faculty,” said Tyler Johnson, co-chair of the council.

Another aspect of the council’s effective leadership is in dialogue creation. Recently the council began working with the results from a UT climate survey. The council will use these survey results to encourage discussions within the UT community about creating an inclusive environment.

“We want the campus to have the opportunity to become a part of the discussion,” said Small. “Everyone should feel like they’re part of the infrastructure.”

The council meets on the third Wednesday of each month in the Gordon Ball Board Room in the Brenda Lawson Athletic Center from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.


Inclusive Practice: Universal Design

The late Ronald L. Mace, a nationally and internationally recognized architect, design pioneer, and educator, created the term “universal design.” Universal design promotes and expands the goal of making products and services welcoming and useful to all, regardless of age, ability, gender, culture, language, and learning style.Curb cut at Ayres Hall

There are seven principles of universal design:
1. Equitable use – The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

2. Flexible use – The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

3. Simple and intuitive use – The design is easily used by individuals of diverse knowledge, literacy levels, and background experiences.

4. Perceptible information – The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory needs.

5. Tolerance for error – The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

6. Low physical effort – The design can be used comfortably with minimal effort.

7. Size and space for approach and use – The design accounts for users of different shapes, sizes, and agility.

- The Center for Universal Design (1997). The Principles of Universal Design, Version 2.0. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University.” (ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/about_ud/udprinciplestext.htm)

Some examples of universal design are curb cuts, varying instructional methods, menus that use both language and pictures, captioned videos, family/unisex restrooms, levered door handles, and having chairs with and without arms so that individuals of different sizes can be seated comfortably.

Universal design concurrently addresses issues of equality, accessibility, social integration, and community. The goal is to meet the needs of as many users as possible. Universal design is a proactive process that helps advance diversity and inclusion.

To learn more about universal design and its applications for higher education institutions, please read Curriculum Transformation and Disability (CTAD): 
Implementing Universal Design in Higher Education, 
edited by Jeanne L. Higbee. The book can be accessed at cehd.umn.edu/crdeul/books-ctad.html.


Brooke King Works to Create Opportunities for LGBTQQIA Students

Brooke King is a junior in psychology, and she is working to create leadership opportunities for incoming LGBTQQIA students. Brooke King

“It’s really motivating to see incoming students take the lead. It motivates me to continue to be a leader and help them have a better transition to college than I had.”

King, an LGBTQQIA student activist, said getting involved in campus organizations is what helped her better transition into the UT community. As the vice president of the Lambda Student Union and a second year ambassador for the OUTreach Center, King’s main focus is getting students involved on campus.

She explains, “I want to help LGBTQQIA students get connected. The more I got involved with Lambda, the more I made those connections and felt a sense of inclusion.”

King’s motivation to take on leadership roles came when she saw her friends succeeding in their campus positions. King is hoping that her leadership involvement will inspire students just as she was inspired.

“We want to make campus as inclusive as possible.”

King recently led an inclusion meeting in which UT students gathered to speak about gender and sexuality. Her next plans are to visit residence halls and speak with students about ally opportunities at the OUTreach Center.

She states, “We want to start dialogues that can change the campus. Students have to spread the word to one another about these opportunities.”

While King is still thinking about her plans after graduation, she says her passion for helping students is leading her to a career in personnel and counseling psychology.

Q&A With Brooke King
Hometown: Maryville, Tennessee
Hobbies: Spending time with friends, riding my bike, and going to campus events.
Favorite Food: Anything Thai.
Why UT? I thought a lot about the diversity here and that’s important to me.


UT’s Disability Task Force Seeks to Improve Accessibility

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity is pleased to announce the creation of a Disability Task Force. The task force is charged with developing recommendations for the campus by examining strengths and weaknesses of accessibility on campus and identifying potential solutions and best practices at other higher education institutions.

The task force is co-chaired by Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, and Annazette Houston, director of the Office of Disability Services.

Other task force members are:

  • Meghan Anderson, associate director for student services at the Thornton Center
  • Michael Ariale, graduate assistant in the Disability Careers Office
  • Nequel Burwell, hall director, Volunteer Hall
  • Stephanie Cook, ADA Coordinator, City of Knoxville
  • Adam Cureton, assistant professor of philosophy
  • Jennifer Gramling, director of online programs
  • Mark Hairr, director of Parking and Transit Services
  • Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for Facilities Services
  • Tom Korn, supporter and friend of UT
  • Deputy Chief Keith Lambert, supervisor for special operations for UT Police Department
  • Lindsay Lee, undergraduate student and founder and president of Campus Disability Advocates
  • Mary Lucal, director of employee relations, Human Resources
  • Courtney Maricle, administrative support assistant, UT Space Institute
  • Lindsey Plummer, learning specialist, Thornton Center
  • Jenny Richter, associate director of the Office of Equity and Diversity and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator
  • Joshua Smith, undergraduate student and member of the Golden Key Honor Society
  • Linda Starnes, alumna and parent
  • Andrew Wood, assistant director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions


Inaugural Male Summit at UT Helps Build Academic Success

Congratulations to UT’s Male Initiative Committee on the successful inaugural “Male Summit” held in October 2013.

Men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin provided the keynote address, and the Summit featured an interactive panel of male staff, faculty and students. The Male Initiative Committee identified four key areas of emphasis for the one day summit: academics, health and wellness, campus involvement and masculinity and identity.

For more information on the summit and the Male Initiative Committee, you can read the article “Raising the bar: A holistic approach to male student success” in the NASPA Men & Masculinities Knowledge Community Newsletter, Winter 2014.


New Coordinator for Diversity at the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources

We are happy to announce that Craig Pickett has been appointed as the Coordinator for Student Life and Diversity for the UT College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources.

Mr. Pickett will provide leadership in multicultural awareness, inclusivity and student success by coordinating efforts aimed at increasing the recruitment, retention and academic performance of minority students at CASNR.

See the full announcement regarding Craig’s appointment here.


Latin American Art in a Global and Social Context – Panel Discussion & Exhibition

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UT students, faculty and staff, as well as community members, are all invited to a panel discussion and art exhibition titled “Latin American Art in a Global and Social Context.”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

10 to 11: 30 am – Panel Discussion

10 am to 12 pm – Art Exhibition

at the Black Cultural Center

Moderated by: Starr Cline

Artists: Rafael Casco
Sergio Martinez
Roman Murillo
Ivan Soto
Delia Flores
Dennis Berrios

Part of the “Dragonflies of the World: an International Exhibition,” featuring painting, mixed media, and sculpture by 21 artists from the United States, Europe, and Central America.

 


Commission for LGBT People

1311-lgbtcommission

The purpose of the Commission for LGBT People is to advise on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services designed to improve the status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, or asexual people on the Knoxville campus.

The co-chairs for this commission are Phyliss Shey, administrative coordinator for Student Success Administration, and Joel Kramer, assignment manager for UT Housing.

Kramer says, “The commission serves as a voice for a population that is often silenced through intimidation or marginalization, and I’m proud to speak up for those who are not always able to do so themselves.”

Shey adds, “I consider the work I do for the Chancellor’s Commission for LGBT People to be some of my most important and satisfying experiences at UT. I pursue justice in an ongoing effort to create equality of thought and action for all people.”

If you would like to learn more information about the Commission and how you can get involved, go to lgbt.utk.edu.

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