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Celebrating 50 years of advancing access to the Volunteer community

The establishment of the Office of Equity & Diversity (OED) in 1974 as the Affirmative Action Office was a direct response to significant pieces of legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The first Affirmative Action Coordinator, Dr. Bertha Williams, was appointed to lead the unit. The unit underwent a name change in 1995 and became the Office of Diversity Resources and Educational Services, and in 2000, it was renamed the Office of Equity & Diversity.

Throughout our tenure, OED’s purpose has been to recognize the humanity of well-qualified, historically under-represented individuals and help them access employment opportunities, resources, services, educational and ancillary programs, and university facilities at UTK, UTIA, UT Athletics, UTSI, IPS, UTF, and the UT System.

In collaboration with campus partners, OED is committed to creating a university community where students not only thrive but persist until graduation and successfully enter the workforce, equipped with the Volunteer Creed and the desire to improve the human condition. OED remains steadfast in creating a culture that values employee contributions, no matter how small, and ensures that individuals have access to opportunities that result in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal, state, and private funding for the university.

Various types of canes, most popularly the long cane, can help individuals who are blind or have low vision navigate with confidence.Accessibility and ADA Accommodations

The ADA Team coordinates with a comprehensive, diverse range of partners and leadership across the University to enhance universal access for people with disabilities.

Accessibility and ADA Accommodations

Spring flowers bloom around McClung Tower and Plaza on April 10, 2019. Photo by Steven Bridges


OED works with exempt staff and faculty searches to ensure equal opportunity is given to all applicants.

Faculty Searches

Exempt Staff Searches

A Professor works with students inside her lab at the Institute for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing building.Search Exemptions

The Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) will work with Human Resources (HR) and the hiring unit to evaluate requests in the instance when a full, external search is not appropriate.

Requests for Search Exepmtions

Vice Chancellor Tyvi Small speaking to faculty and staff.

Educational Workshops and Professional Development

We provide tools framed for practical application to the workplace.

Educational Opportunities

As of August 1, 2023, OED’s charge includes campus accessibility, ADA accommodations for employees and visitors, faculty and exempt staff searches, exemptions from normal search processes, and civil rights related education and development. Allegations of civil rights violations are now being addressed by the Office of Investigation and Resolution. To learn more about OIR, or to report a possible violation of campus policy, please visit