Executive Director, Equity & Diversity

Knoxville, TN

The University of Tennessee System

About the University of Tennessee System

 The University of Tennessee is comprised of campuses at KnoxvilleChattanooga, and Martin; the Health Science Center at Memphis; the Space Institute at Tullahoma; and the statewide Institute of Agriculture and Institute for Public Service. The UT System has a presence in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Through the combined force of education, research and outreach, the University serves students, business and industry, schools, governments, organizations and citizens statewide.

The University of Tennessee System, through its multiple campuses and institutes, serves the people of Tennessee and beyond through the discovery, communication and application of knowledge. The System is committed to providing undergraduate, graduate and professional education programs in a diverse learning environment that prepares students to be leaders in a global society. The UT System’s delivery of education, discovery, outreach and public service contributes to the economic, social and environmental well-being of all Tennesseans.

The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the University of Tennessee, overseeing the educational and operational activities of the statewide University system. The 12- member board is comprised of 1 ex officio member, who is the Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of Tennessee, and 11 appointed members, one of whom is a nonvoting student member. The Secretary of the University is the principal staff liaison between the University administration and the Board of Trustees.

Supporting Campuses and Institutes to Achieve Inclusive Excellence

The Executive Director of Equity and Diversity will join the UT System at a time of enormous opportunity and potential impact. Reporting to the System Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) and serving as a member of the System HR leadership team, this unique role will consult and partner with campuses and institutes to advance efforts across the UT System to identify and remove stark structural, social, financial, and health disparities that are impediments to achieving diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Tennessee with the goal of providing a welcoming and affirming environment for all. The Executive Director will help to position the UT System as a beacon of light for civility and respect and will champion a culture of engagement and belonging by providing leadership in an environment that actively promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion and will possess a deep commitment to these values and demonstrate action and accountability in advancing strategies to support them at all levels of the University.

In collaboration with the CHRO and others, this role will assist in the prioritization of diversity and equity initiatives and will communicate to the broader workforce to support and encourage actionable efforts that advance inclusive excellence. The Executive Director will provide a high degree of support to the campuses and institutes by convening campus diversity partners, facilitating solutions to shared obstacles, coordinating resources, and sharing expertise in best practices. The Executive Director will also serve as a resource to the campuses for metrics and accountability and will coordinate diversity task forces and annual retreats to foster cross team collaboration throughout the UT System. Additionally, the Executive Director will serve as a statewide advocate with the legislature and the Board of Trustees.

The successful candidate will be a skilled relationship-builder, consultant, and advisor with outstanding interpersonal skills and a strong focus on teamwork and collaboration.  Duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The Executive Director will work closely with senior leaders and campus partners to advance a System-wide culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion by providing strategies and support for the recruitment, retention, and engagement of diverse faculty and staff.
  • The Executive Director will be a System-wide ambassador for diversity, equity, and inclusion and will work to engage and inspire members of the internal and external community by raising awareness and illustrating the importance of these principles.
  • The Executive Director will serve as an advisor, sharing best practice research and expertise including the development of matrixes for measuring diversity performance for accountability purposes.
  • In collaboration with the campus and institute Equity Officers, the position will design, develop, and champion initiatives that build, expand, and support inclusive employee populations collaboratively throughout the UT System while removing obstacles to achieve success in these areas.
  • The Executive Director will support the campuses and institutes by providing overall diversity and inclusion related services including strategic planning, program audits, support for spousal placements, and policy counseling.
  • The Executive Director will provide leadership in the development of System-wide training opportunities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion such as bias and microaggression training.
  • The Executive Director will provide diversity and inclusion training, education, and advocacy to the Board of Trustees and will share reports and metrics with the Board to measure the success of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  • The Executive Director will work with external groups and professional organizations interested in common issues and concerns related to equal employment opportunity/affirmative action, ADA/Section 504,, VEVRAA, and diversity and inclusion to achieve synergy and interconnectedness at all campuses and institutes.
  • The Executive Director administers diversity and inclusion policy and program development per the System’s strategic plan and has a consultative role with the UT campuses and institutes on issues of diversity and inclusion relating to minority contractors and vendors.
  • The Executive Director will work with the CHRO to ensure appropriate integration of System-wide inclusive excellence goals throughout the UT Strategic Plan and will ensure that any related risks to these goals are identified and addressed as part of the System’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) efforts.
  • The Executive Director will work closely with diversity partners at each campus and institute to develop and monitor an appropriate System-wide diversity and inclusion plan and diversity statement that coincides with the System strategic plan and ensures that the System’s diversity and inclusion goals and objectives are consistently met.
  • The Executive Director has responsibility for coordinating production of the University’s Affirmative Action Plan, completion of the Title VI Plan and consultation on the Title IX Plan and partners with Equity Officers to ensure that each campus and institute has an annual affirmative action plan, appropriate recording keeping procedures, and is in full compliance with required state and federal guidelines for federal contractors.
  • The Executive Director will also assist the president in ensuring that executive and senior leaders receive appropriate diversity and inclusion training through group presentations and individual training programs such as those designed for executives through the UT Learning Management System (LMS).
  • The Executive Director will be actively involved in outreach and engagement efforts consistent with the University’s mission of diversity and inclusion including developing programs and partnership with organizations focused on equality and inclusive excellence such as the statewide Urban League and Chamber offices, as well as the NAACP, NCORE, and NADOHE. 
  • At the System level, the Executive Director serve as the UT System spokesperson on issues dealing with equal employment opportunity/affirmative action, ADA/Section 504, ADA/Section 504, VEVRAA, and  will provide support and assistance in developing, promoting, and informing diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The Diversity Advisory Council

The Executive Director will also have responsibility for supporting, coordinating, and convening the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) comprised of students, faculty, and staff from across the state. Founded in 2010, DAC is a forum for cross-collaboration that creates opportunities for dialogue and exchange in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. The Executive Director will support DAC in its efforts to present strategies to the UT System president on matters pertaining to:

  • The effective and efficient recruitment, retention and graduation of a more diverse student population
  • Recruiting and retaining a more diverse faculty and staff; and
  • Developing and implementing performance measurements for the purpose of accountability, and other matters relating to diversity and inclusion as necessary

The Executive Director will work closely with DAC members to revamp the effectiveness of the committee in support of advancing diversity and inclusion goals statewide and will help leverage resources in support of each campus and institute’s individual plans for equity and diversity.  

Qualities & Qualifications

A bachelor’s degree is required, and an advanced degree is preferred. Additional training, education and certifications are strongly desired. Experience in higher education, and specifically in a multi-campus university system, is highly desirable. Five years of progressive experience and demonstrated effectiveness leading diversity and inclusion related initiatives and programs is required. Additional qualifications include:

  • success in facilitating effective partnerships with and between constituencies applying effective techniques to achieve meaningful impact
  • a track record of institutional change and skill in developing vision and strategies that inspire others
  • demonstrated experience structuring programs to best serve the University’s educational goals while meeting federal and state legal requirements
  • a fundamental inclination to listen with compassion to all perspectives and experiences
  • an intermediate understanding of federal and state employment law and University policies and procedures, including but not limited to knowledge of issues related to Title VII and equal employment opportunity, Americans with Disabilities Act, Title IX, Violence Against Women Act, VEVRAA, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ required Affirmative Action Plans, and the Age Discrimination in employment Act.

Specific skills for the Executive Director of Equity and Diversity should include:  

  • demonstrated leadership skills and abilities
  • commitment to quality and integrity
  • demonstrated effectiveness impacting and leading diversity, inclusion, and organizational change initiatives
  • history of successful collaboration with multiple constituencies
  • ability to exercise diplomacy to engage others in productive dialogues that advance diversity and inclusion efforts
  • exceptional skills in communications and interpersonal relations, including the ability to present complex issues to internal and external audiences
  • knowledge of and commitment to affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policies, laws and practices
  • demonstrated ability to foster a culture of accountability throughout the University
  • skilled decision-maker, with transparency in decision-making and management
  • excellent oral, written and presentation skills; exceptional listening skills
  • ability to multi-task
  • ability to travel frequently
The Executive Director for Equity and Diversity will exhibit qualities of emotional maturity, genuineness, self-confidence, common sense, judgment, fairness, creativity, discretion, decisiveness, political savvy, diplomacy, tact, resiliency, adaptability, courage of convictions, and tolerance for ambiguity.  Demonstrated behavioral expectations include:
  • unquestioned integrity and trustworthiness
  • ability to act independently, take initiative, build consensus, and exercise sound judgement
  • commitment to the University’s mission and strategic plan, as well as missions and strategic plans for each campus/institute
  • ability to build relationships and to establish collaborative partnerships across the University and externally.
  • ability to make good, consistent, and fair decisions (based on fact and data)
  • ability to work with cross-functional teams and to foster teamwork

To apply with resume, cover letter and online application, please visit https://ut.taleo.net/careersection/ut_system/jobdetail.ftl?job=20000000OM

Posted: 06/23/2020