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Chancellor’s Commissions and Council

The diverse commissions and council are employee resource groups that serve the campus under the direction of the Division of Access and Engagement (DAE). The commissions and council exist to ensure that students, staff, and faculty from underrepresented populations have a welcoming, supportive and inclusive climate on Knoxville’s campus. DAE works in partnership with the commissions and council to provide additional support and resources to confirm an inclusive culture and climate can be achieved. Together, DAE and the commissions and council work to foster and maintain a climate of equity and inclusion for all Vols. 

The Commissions and Council membership application for 2023-2024 has closed. For more information on how you may join in the work of the Commissions and Council, please contact Sarah Browning, at

Commission for Black Communities

Co-Chair: Donovan Johnson, Assistant Director, UT Success Academy

Co-Chair: Marcia Lane, Administrative Specialist II

The Commission for Black Communities is a body that is appointed by and reports to the Chancellor. The purpose of the commission is to provide guidance on planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services, as they relate to Black students, staff, and faculty. The commission is dedicated to the protection and retention of all Black and African American students, staff and faculty on campus. The body also recommends changes to current and future university policies and procedures as they specifically relate to students, staff, and faculty of color. They work to enhance the racial climate on campus and to provide an environment for civil discourse around issues of race, racism and biases.

The Commission for Black Communities participates in various events on campus and in the Knoxville Community to promote racial inclusiveness. Each year the commission recognizes two individuals for their contribution in promoting diversity and inclusion on campus via the Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award and the Hardy Liston Jr. Symbol of Hope Award.

Commission for Disability

Co-Chair: David Ndiaye, Director, Student Disability Services

Co-Chair: Emma Burgin, Director, UT FUTURE Program

The Commission for Disability aims to provide support for individuals with disabilities—students, staff, faculty, and campus visitors. Our purpose is to support and meet the needs of these different groups while educating individuals about disabilities in general.

In addition to advocating for support beyond traditional ADA accommodations, the commission seeks to create opportunities for individuals to share their experiences with disability on campus and elsewhere. Each year, the Commission for Disability recognizes those who champion for support and/or recognition of those with disabilities through the following awards: the Commission for Disability Undergraduate Student Award, the Commission for Disability Graduate Student Award, and the Commission for Disability Advocate Award.

Council for Diversity and Inclusion

Co-Chair: Abby Sherman, Coordinator of Student Services, The Graduate School

Co-Chair: Ernest L. Brothers, Associate Dean, The Graduate School

The Council for Diversity and Inclusion serves as a resource for the Division of Access and Engagement as it works toward creating inclusive learning and work environments. The Council achieves this through partnerships, monitoring diversity data, and education. Each member of the council represents a different unit on campus, ensuring that faculty, staff, and student interests are all considered. 

The council partners with the other commissions and organizations to promote and assist with diversity and inclusion initiatives. For example, the council may provide funding or request participation to support diversity events. The broad campus representation that makes up the council ensures a variety of communication outlets are reached when promoting events or making announcements.

CDI also annually recognizes a department or unit on campus that demonstrated outstanding diversity leadership via the Dr. Marva Rudolph Diversity and Interculturalism Unit Excellence Award. 

The Commission for the Latin American Volunteer Experience (CLAVE)

Co-Chair: Dr. Noelia Pacheco-Diaz, Assessment Coordinator, Office of Student Life Assessment & Strategic Initiatives

Co-Chair: Christian Canizales, Senior Coordinator, Programs Abroad

The Commission for the Latin American Volunteer Experience (CLAVE) guides the planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services related to staff, faculty, and students of Central American, South American, Caribbean, Spanish, or Portuguese cultural or biological heritage. In addition, CLAVE seeks to enhance community-building for Latin American and Hispanic people on campus while providing opportunities for the campus to learn more about this community’s richly diverse history and experience. Finally, as a centralized resource, the Commission will collaborate with our campus community to enhance the Volunteer experience for Latin American and Hispanic faculty, staff, and students.


Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Co-Chair: Dr. Rachel Rui, Director Office of Asia Engagement, Office of Communications

Co-Chair: Michelle M. Kwon, Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement in the College of Law

Established in fall 2022, the Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (“CFAAPI”) is a body appointed by the Chancellor of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (together with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, the “campus”) to advise on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of campus programs, policies, and services designed to improve the status and experience of AAPI community members on the campus. The CFAPPI is committed to the advocacy, protection, and advancement of AAPI staff, students, and faculty on campus. Through these programs and services, the CFAAPI will aim to foster a community of belonging where all AAPI members are celebrated and appreciated for their contributions to a culturally rich and diverse society.


Commission for Women

Co-Chair: Courtney Marie Cronley, Associate Professor, College of Social Work

Co-Chair: Mia Pearson-Loomis, Academic Coach, Academic Success Center, Division of Student Success

The Commission for Women at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a body appointed by the Chancellor to advise on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services designed to improve the status of women at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This group also collaborates with the Vice Chancellor’s Office for Access and Engagement to ensure equity, integrity and that students, faculty and staff matter and belong. The most important priorities for the Commission for Women are centered around promoting women’s leadership by supporting and enhancing mentoring and professional development and advocating for sexual assault awareness and prevention. This group also evaluates relevant policies and programs, advocates for pay equity across genders, and recognizes the contributions of women on UT campus. Each year, the Commission for Women recognizes leaders and initiatives that support women on campus through the Notable UT Woman Award, the Rising UT Woman Award, and the Angie Warren Perkins Award.

The Commission for LGBT+ Communities

Co-Chair: Ronda Wright, Senior Advisor & Adjunct Assistant Professor, College of Architecture

Co-Chair: Jeremy Mobley, Program Director, Academic Advising Initiatives

The Commission for LGBT+ Communities is a body appointed by the Chancellor to serve and advise on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services designed to improve the status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The goal of the commission is to ensure that faculty, students and staff have a voice, matter and belong. In addition, the Commission for LGBT+ Communities recognizes excellent leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion through their LGBT Student Leadership and LGBT Advocate Awards.