University of Tennessee - Knoxville

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

The University of Tennessee – Knoxville (UTK) is a public institution that was founded in 1794. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 22,815, located in Knoxville, and the campus size is 600 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. The enrolled student population at UTK is 79% White, 7% Black, 3% Hispanic/Latino, 3% Asian, 3% Multiracial, 3% Race Unknown, and 1% International. There are about 51% identified female students and 49% identified male students. 77% of students are from Tennessee.

Engagement Summary

At the University of Tennessee, measures were taken to address mental health and wellness as a campus-wide priority. These initiatives included partnering with JED to become a JED Campus, finalizing a 4 year strategic plan to comprehensively address mental health needs of students, and funds were increased to hire more diverse staff members in the counseling center.

Specific steps this institution took to increase recruitment and retention of racially diverse faculty and staff included examining and addressing common challenges with tenure and permanent status processes, they conducted exit surveys with faculty and staff to better understand experiences of faculty and staff of color, they used information from climate surveys to address issues that affect retention of racially diverse faculty and staff, and they supported affinity groups to promote continuity and belonging among  faculty and staff of color.

UTK conducted a campus climate survey, increased the diversity of the faculty, and increased the diversity of the student body to improve the campus climate for students of color. UTK collected data on the experiences of students of color and how their effects on mental health on campus using the Biannual Student Survey.

Midterm Evaluation Progress-to-Goal Snapshot

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville had a goal to hire a Multicultural Specialist Psychologist in the Student Counseling Center, to place a counselor on site once a week at the Multicultural Student Life Center, and to create a student advisory council for the Counseling Center run by a diverse group of students.

Highlights include:

  • The search to fill this position started on August 1st, 2019.The position was changed to a staff psychologist with a specialization in diverse student perspectives.
  • A pilot ran during the spring, and the actual implementation started in the fall. A LatinX staff member is doing a student of color support group once a week. Instead of being a “race based trauma” group, it became a group with no particular theme.
  • There are 12 students in the student advisory council. Along with students of color and LGBTQ, reps from Active Minds and student government also make up the group. They want telehealth support, but student satisfaction surveys indicated that in person counseling is what more students want.