The council advises the campus administration on creating and sustaining a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive campus climate. In the absence of a campus diversity office, the council attempts to ensure that things don’t fall through the cracks and has sponsored and co-sponsored events to advance various aspects of diversity on campus and in the community.
The council meets monthly in Ayres Hall, Room 308H.
Appointed by the chancellor, members include a representative from each of the commissions, the Student Government Association, Graduate Student Senate, and Faculty Senate; at least one representative from each of the vice chancellors’ areas, including student life, academic affairs, athletics, communications, advancement and alumni affairs, finance and administration, human resources, and research and engagement; and 10 additional members representing faculty, staff, and students across campus. See a full list of members.
Goals for the Year
- Attract and retain faculty and staff from underrepresented populations
- Attract, retain, and graduate students from historically underrepresented populations and international students
- Ensure that undergraduate curricular requirements include significant intercultural perspectives
- Serve as a resource for academic and administrative units working to develop and implement diversity plans
- Assist with campuswide initiatives related to diversity
- Ensure that UT develops and delivers extracurricular programs that provide the campus with diversity and intercultural training and education
- Measure UT’s efforts against those at peer schools
Events and Initiatives
Last year, the CDI was instrumental in hosting the 2017 Collaborators for Change Diversity Summit. The council also oversees the annual Dr. Marva Rudolph Diversity and Interculturalism United Excellence Award, which is presented at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet. Rudolph was an associate vice chancellor and director of the Office of Equity and Diversity who passed away in 2014 after more than 20 years with UT and more than 30 years of work in diversity and inclusion.
The council (originally called the Diversity Council) dates back to 2004, when it was created by then Chancellor Loren Crabtree with Marva Rudolph and Alan Chesney, former executive director of human resources, as co-chairs. During its first year, the council drafted a report, A Framework for Action, which summarized efforts of administrators, faculty, staff, and students to create a campuswide diversity plan.
Visit the Council for Diversity and Interculturalism website for more information.
Whether it’s taking the Chamber Singers on an international concert tour every three years or serving as chair of the Council for Diversity and Interculturalism, Angie Batey has always been an ambassador for diversity.
“I firmly believe that we need to prepare our students to go out into this world ready to appropriately interact with peoples from a variety of cultural backgrounds,” she said. “Technology increasingly makes our world smaller. To not prepare our students for this is a disservice to our community, state, nation, and world.”
Batey, who came to UT in 1995, is the James R. Cox University Professor of Music, director of choral activities, and director of graduate studies for the School of Music. Since 2012, she has also been the associate dean for diversity and inclusion for the College of Arts and Sciences.
She became part of the Council for Diversity and Interculturalism in 2012.
“Since it is an overarching group from many different campus entities, it was a great place to learn about diversity initiatives on campus.”
Batey has played a role in many of those campus-level efforts. She serves on the University Diversity Champions Committee and co-chaired the VolVision 2020 diversity and inclusion implementation working group. She has also worked with numerous diversity initiatives in research, hiring, and faculty and staff retention.
Batey has served on national-level Colleges of Arts and Sciences committees on cultural diversity and gender issues.
Batey said diversity efforts on campus became somewhat disjointed after the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was defunded in 2016.
“Without one central office coordinating diversity and inclusion initiatives, there was a bit of a left hand–right hand effect. We tried on CDI to help with communication, but it was always a struggle.”
Batey thinks having an interim vice chancellor for diversity and engagement will help significantly—internally and externally.
“Many of our problems have come from external factors, which puts us at a disadvantage because we find ourselves being reactive rather than proactive.”
She said there are many people working really hard to make things better.
“We have many shining lights on campus to that end,” she said.
Batey holds degrees in music education and musical theater from Birmingham-Southern College, a master’s degree from Florida State University in music education, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting from the University of South Carolina.
Whether it’s on an archeological dig in the Middle East or right here on the UT campus, Erin Darby has learned how to wade into conflict and find middle ground.
Darby is an associate professor of religious studies and director of the ’Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project in southern Jordan. This is her second year serving on the Council for Diversity and Interculturalism, where she is now chair-elect.
“Engaging with diversity has been an important part of my own journey—as a female professional, as someone who works in the diverse worlds of the Middle East, and as someone who works with a number of diverse constituencies here in Knoxville,” Darby said. “Department of Religious Studies faculty are already involved in a number of diversity initiatives across campus and take diversity seriously when fostering our working and classroom environments.”
Darby said she sees some positive things happening at UT.
“Since coming to Tennessee in 2011, I have been encouraged by the number of students, faculty, and staff that work hard and put themselves on the line to improve our campus climate. And whenever those voices are brought to the table and taken seriously, we always see positive impacts.
“We need to continue to educate faculty, staff, and students, especially facilitating relationships across a diverse range of social groups, which I have found to be an effective means of expanding world views, building community, and developing empathy for others.”
Darby sees commonalities in navigating the conflict in the Middle East and the diversity struggles here at home.
“Working with multiple constituencies in the Middle East requires my team to be observant, thoughtful, and empathetic. There is no shying away from complexity, and rarely are there easy cut-and-dried responses to the region’s challenges. You cannot be half committed or easily fatigued, because real progress is part of an extended process.”
“Whether we are in the Middle East or East Tennessee, some of our responses to tensions are the same. First, we have to recognize our own backgrounds and biases, especially those that could impact how we hear other people’s voices and how we might respond. Second, we have to use active listening to make sure that we are really hearing and reflecting upon the experiences of others and that we are showing them that we hear, respect, and care for them. Likewise, we must be willing to accept criticism of our responses.
“Above all, working toward greater respect for diversity and inclusion is a profound act of communication and relationship building,” she said. “As in the Middle East, this is often slow work that requires spending time in each other’s presence while trust and respect are established. Only once these conditions are present can actions be taken that are well-reasoned and impactful.”