For its implementation of varied programs and policies supporting diversity and inclusion throughout the community and across campus, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has won the Inclusion by Design award from the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga.
The award was presented today at the Urban League’s 37th annual Equal Opportunity Day Breakfast before a sell-out crowd at the Chattanooga Convention Center. UTC Chancellor Steve Angle was joined by UTC Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Brown, Angle’s Chief of Staff Terry Denniston and UTC College of Health, Education and Professional Studies Dean Valerie Rutledge in accepting the award, which was presented by Ryenne McDowell, a UTC undergraduate majoring in political science.
“The Urban League is such a central fixture in our community, doing so many good and important things to inspire everyone to embrace diversity and inclusion, that receiving this award from them is really meaningful and significant,” Angle said. “What is important about this is that it acknowledges the contributions of the entire University. It is not about just one or two people but the involvement and engagement of so many people who have a direct impact on enhancing diversity and inclusion.
“From sharing the history of the Martin Luther King corridor through the ‘Stories of the Big 9’ podcasts, to the Equity Fellows students volunteering to help the community respond to a variety of challenges, to the contributions of faculty, staff, students and alumni in countless ways to demonstrate and enhance the value of diversity and inclusion—to me, it’s the breadth and depth of the University’s involvement as well as its impact that are important and what is recognized by this award.”
According to the Urban League, UTC’s selection for the honor resulted from inclusive business practices and outreach: “As the pre-eminent four-year university in our city, the UTC administration and staff have initiated a variety of programs and policies that are supporting diversity and inclusion across campus and within our community.”
In presenting the award, McDowell noted the 50th year anniversary in 2019 of UTC’s affiliation with the UT system in 1969 and the university’s work since then toward diversity of students and of opportunity.
“Since that historic union, UTC has provided opportunity for thousands of students—including me—from diverse backgrounds, civic engagement across the campus and in the community,” McDowell said. “UTC is committed to embracing diversity and inclusion.”
The Urban League says its Equal Opportunity Day serves to remind the community that “the greatness of our country rests upon the principle of equal opportunity for everyone.” The awards program honors corporate and individual leaders “who have championed equal opportunity, civil rights or social justice.”