Nearly every first-time freshman enrolled at Tennessee Tech University for the Fall 2015 semester participated in rich conversations about the benefits of diversity and having an inclusive mindset.
This is just one example of a number of diversity and inclusion efforts that have taken place at Tennessee Tech recently. In Summer 2015, the university implemented formal sessions regarding diversity and inclusivity into the Freshman Orientation program. Tennessee Tech’s Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, who has a focus on Access and Diversity, led those sessions. As additional support, several instructors of Tennessee Tech’s freshman experience course (a requirement for each first-time freshman) had the assistant vice president lead a more in-depth discussion in their courses during the Fall term.
The university also launched a Diversity Scholarship Initiative with a goal of $2 million to provide scholarships for students from underrepresented groups. In the early stages of this initiative, donors have committed funds well into the six-figure range. Supported by the provost’s vision and in collaboration with the assistant vice president, several colleges and schools at Tennessee Tech have established diversity committees. Some of these committees have become very active and even have begun to positively impact faculty searches. Tennessee Tech will host a diversity summit later in 2016 entitled “Don’t Wait, Cultivate: Real Strategies to Build and Support a Diverse Workforce in Higher Education.” This one-day collaborative experience will focus on university leadership gaining strategies for recruiting and retaining minority faculty and staff. “Additionally, the Provost is working with a group of faculty, staff and student leaders to establish a diversity agenda for the University.”