Embrace Diversity: UTC

Category: Features

Chattanooga – Embracing diversity at UT Chattanooga has a new leader in Stacy Lightfoot, and she has a plan to hit the ground running. A 100-day plan, that is.

On July 1, Lightfoot joined UT Chattanooga as the institution’s first vice chancellor for diversity and engagement. She’s put together what she calls a roadmap for learning and leading during her first few months in the new role. Her findings will serve as a guide for a long-term vision and strategic direction.

Stacy Lightfoot smiles on the UTC campus
Stacy Lightfoot

And it all starts with networking on campus, putting together names and faces.

“To me, relationship building on campus is critical to the success of this work. One of the first things I’ll be doing is meeting the people of UTC and getting to know the key stakeholders, the students and what people are working on,” Lightfoot said. “It’s genuinely about hearing and listening to all the excellent work that departments are doing or want to do and finding ways to support that.”

Lightfoot, the first woman of color to hold a cabinet-level position at UTC, said she doesn’t want people to think of diversity and engagement as a department.

“I want people to think about diversity and engagement as the culture and a mindset that UTC can embrace and embed into the fabric of the institution,” she said. “The success of this work should not rest on one person; it will be a collective effort and the collective energy of supporters in and outside of UT.”

Along with holding introductory meetings and putting together a staff, other vital components of her early days on campus include gaining a deeper understanding of UTC data and working with senior leadership on the new strategic plan that’s about to launch.

“Committed faculty, staff and leadership have been working on UTC’s new strategic plan. It is imperative that the institution’s leadership stay committed and actively involved in the implementation of the strategic plan with an intentional focus on achieving the diversity, equity and inclusion metrics and outcomes that have been set,” Lightfoot said. “As vice chancellor for diversity and engagement, I plan to lift up this work daily and support campus leaders and students in meaningful ways.”