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Diversity Action Plans

In fall 2020, each college and vice chancellor unit is submitting a diversity action plan that will address the following goals and priorities (as applicable to their particular area):

  • Culture and Climate: Create and sustain a welcoming, supportive and inclusive campus climate.
  • Faculty/Staff Recruitment and Retention: Attract and retain greater numbers of individuals from underrepresented populations into faculty, staff, and administrative positions (particularly department heads, directors, deans, and vice chancellors).
  • Student Recruitment and Retention: Attract, retain, and graduate increasing numbers of students from historically underrepresented populations and international students.
  • Engagement and Outreach: Develop and strengthen mutually beneficial partnerships with diverse communities in Tennessee and globally.
  • Curriculum: Ensure that curricular requirements include significant intercultural perspectives.
  • Graduate Student Professional Development: Prepare graduate students to become teachers and researchers in a diverse world.

These three-year plans should include objectives, actions to meet each objective, metrics to measure progress, a timeline for completing actions, and a list of responsible parties. All deans and vice chancellors will be evaluated based on their progress in implementing these plans.

The purpose of this initiative is threefold:

  1. To provide a framework for deans and vice chancellor units to develop strategies to address barriers and challenges to inclusive excellence in their respective colleges or units.
  2. To promote a culture of evaluation and accountability as it pertains to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
  3. To foster a greater sense of ownership among all members of the campus community in making UT a place in which all Vols matter and belong.

Once final version of plan is submitted, representatives from each college and vice chancellor unit will meet with staff from the Division of Diversity and Engagement to receive feedback on their plans. Feedback will be administered using the Diversity Action Plan Feedback Guide.

Next, these representatives will sit on a committee that will meet once a semester to share best practices and discuss their progress on implementation. The purpose of this committee is to improve the overall campus climate, create a space where people can get regular feedback, and encourage greater collaboration between groups.


The timeline for writing and submitting diversity action plans is as follows:

  • Fall 2019: Initial request with guidance on structure
  • Early Fall 2020: Plan submission with three-year process
  • Mid-Fall 2020: Individual meetings; semester updates


Writing Guide

The development of diversity action plans, or DAPs, is a critical step in the process of advancing inclusive excellence in our working and learning environments across campus. The following list contains considerations that will guide you as you write your DAP.

  1. What is the mission and vision for your unit with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion? Inclusion is a journey with no specific end point, but well-articulated objectives and practices can be defined to mark inclusive organizations. A clear vision of your culture will outline high-level goals, strategies, and concrete actions each college or vice chancellor unit will take to achieve its objectives and enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion. A solid mission for your DAP should indicate how your team will (1) promote innovation in research and teaching by enhancing creativity through diversity (primarily colleges); (2) ensure equity of opportunity to all persons who work or study at a particular college or vice chancellor unit; and (3) create a culture of inclusivity and respect within each college or vice chancellor unit in interactions with partners.
  2. Do you know where your unit is today with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion? As you design your DAP, it is important to consider any pertinent data with respect to where your college or unit is in addressing matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Data may include demographic information (age, ethnicity, race, gender identity, physical characteristics and abilities, sexual orientation, veteran status, etc.), unit- or college-level climate surveys (and/or focus group), and current policies, procedures, and practices.
  3. Have you identified specific objectives to improve the climate for engaging and retaining a diverse environment? Based on your understanding of where your team currently is and your team’s mission and vision, identify objectives that will move your team toward inclusive excellence. All objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based). They should also connect to the overall mission and values of the college or vice chancellor unit. If needed, multiple objectives should be provided to meet each goal.
  4. Have you provided a complete discussion of actions you plan to take? When writing the “Actions” section of the DAP, provide a rich description of what faculty, staff, students, and/or community members will be doing to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some examples of resources to use when identifying actions can include thoughtful review of documents from peer institutions, discussions about feasibility and impact, and/or climate survey data. Consider the following questions when thinking about how to document your actions in the DAP template:
    • Who will be responsible for implementing this plan? The action plan should be the responsibility of the entire organization, not just the dean over a particular college.
    • What is the time frame for implementing this plan?
    • How will the plan be measured for its effectiveness over time? If possible, the plan should explore alternative resources and propose action for possible barriers to meeting those objectives. Progress may be assessed by participation in diversity and inclusion education.
    • Is there time for reflection? Each action plan should outline a clear reflection process or space for reflecting with and among stakeholders (e.g., faculty, staff, students, and/or community members). Responsible parties should also be identified for both long- and short-term efforts for communicating.
    • Is there an opportunity to provide feedback? There should be a clear system for communicating data to all students, faculty, and staff once it is collected.
  5. Do assessment methods or outcomes relate to the objectives? For instance, if the action item is to create a committee that focuses on recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and staff, the assessment for that action item should be whether there is an increase of diverse faculty and staff hires over a specified time frame. If an assessment method is recommended for an outcome, representatives from the college or vice chancellor unit should be able to articulate how that assessment aligns with each outcome.
  6. Have you identified meaningful metrics to evaluate your progress toward each of your objectives? What data are needed to quantify these metrics? Do you have a specific plan to collect and analyze data? In addition, data collection and analysis should be varied and completed by a representative committee of the college or vice chancellor unit. It should also include both quantitative and qualitative data. Data collected about the current state of your group must be appropriately analyzed to identify where you’re starting, needs, and areas for growth. When you meet with us, please bring supporting documentation of what you have been using in order to explain context. Some examples may include needs assessments, focus group data, documentation of faculty discussions, demographic data, etc.
  7. Does your DAP take into consideration the needs of your stakeholders? Is it regularly communicated and visible to everyone? Each plan should take into consideration the intersections of all its stakeholders’ identities, and how they may inform actions. There should be a clear process for reflecting with and among stakeholders. In addition, as new people join your unit at every level, they should be informed about the progress made on diversity and inclusion initiatives. Onboarding activities may include reading, debriefing, and reviews of past data and analysis. At a minimum, onboarding should include a review of the relevant portion of the DAP, related responsibilities and expectations of the new stakeholder, and methods for individual evaluation.
  8. Do you have a clear plan to continually seek and incorporate feedback into your DAP and its implementation? Have you anticipated potential barriers or challenges and made mitigation plans to address those challenges? What variables or challenges can you anticipate based on your unit or college’s current climate? As your college or unit improves in current areas of need, you should plan to identify new areas for growth and incorporate those into your DAP. For example, plan regular check-ins, feedback opportunities, and assessments to identify these challenges if they occur.

For additional support with DAPs, contact Janelle Coleman.


Information Sessions

Creating a DAP is a crucial step in moving toward inclusive excellence in both learning and working environments across campus. To guide you in this process, the Division of Diversity and Engagement has offered the following interactive information session video and presentation: