UTIA Takes Action Against Racism Through New Council and Director

Category: Features

The UT Institute of Agriculture is committed to a unified, integrated approach to enhancing diversity and inclusion throughout the institute. As a result, a new UTIA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council has been formed that will include representation from all departments and units. 

This standing council will have rotating membership to ensure that all aspects of UTIA’s education, research and outreach programs meet the ever-evolving needs of all employees, students and stakeholders. It will operate with an annual budget to support its work, and its members will be expected to establish specific, measurable metrics and outcomes that represent positive progress for UTIA’s diversity and inclusion efforts. 

Regular communication to all members of the institute will be provided, and the council will be expected to provide quarterly updates to the UTIA Executive Committee, which will in turn be expected to support and promote the council’s work. 

The council guidelines are available at the UTIA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website.

UTIA has also created a new full-time position for a director of diversity, equity and inclusion. This position will provide leadership for the new council and will be responsible for leading the implementation of action plans and programs envisioned by the group. 

A position description is being drafted and the search committee formed, with a goal of filling this position by fall 2020. Diversity programs and initiatives in the College of Veterinary Medicine will continue to be led by Michael Jones.

UTIA Hosts Fireside Chats and Cooking Shows to Stay Connected

UTIA’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Luca Giori hosted his own cooking shows via Zoom for faculty and students.

Even though employees have had to face difficult challenges this year, the UT Institute of Agriculture leadership is committed to keeping their employees informed and connected. UTIA Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing Lisa Stearns and Senior Vice President and UTIA Senior Vice Chancellor Tim Cross moderate “Fireside Chats” each week to address COVID-19 issues. 

UTIA faculty and staff, ranging from 300 to 400 strong, from across the state tune in each week to hear an informal discussion about relevant issues as well as ask questions. The Fireside Chats have featured special guests, including UT President Randy Boyd, UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman, State Commissioner of Health Lisa Piercy, UT supporter and nationally syndicated TV fisherman Bill Dance and Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 Meterologist Lelan Statom. 

In addition to these Fireside Chats, UTIA’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Luca Giori hosted his own cooking shows via Zoom for faculty and students. Giori, originally from Italy, shared his family’s Italian recipes. Due to the 24-hour nature of the hospital, these cooking shows have been a wonderful respite for staff who have not stopped working since the pandemic began. 

Zoom Link Password: Tiramisu@4  

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