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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Message from Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


On behalf of the Herbert College of Agriculture, I want to personally welcome you to the Diversity and Inclusion unit of the College. Our goal is to serve as a catalyst for your academic, personal, and professional success via the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout all aspects of the College. We work to ensure that all stakeholders recognize the importance of diversity as we aim for academic excellence, character development, and innovation through the development and implementation of specialized programs, training opportunities, research endeavors, and student success initiatives. Our hope is that you will acquire vital cultural competencies to thrive in an ever-changing and increasingly diverse world.  Below, you will find information on our diversity and inclusion programming and student organizations. If you have any questions or desire any assistance, please feel free to contact my office at cpicket3@utk.edu

Craig Pickett, Jr. Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We pursue the goal for an inclusive and diverse academic program by recruiting and retaining a diverse group of students, staff, and faculty.

Craig Pickett
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Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for UTIA
Sharon Jean-Philippe, Faculty Advisor - Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences.
Sharon Jean-Philippe
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The Faculty Advisor for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences.
Windy Soto-Gonzalez
Student Diversity Connector
Damon Conway
Student Diversity Connector
Legna Soto-Gonzalez
Student Diversity Connector

The Herbert College of Agriculture encompasses disciplines across dealing with food and fiber crop production, agribusiness, biotic and abiotic threats, food safety, agriculture, engineering, and environment. In the practice of developing new varieties of plants and new breeds of animals, diversity brings to us opportunities to breed novel valuable traits such as disease or stress resistance. In our studies of natural resources, we learn about what a rich environment surrounds us here and how gifted we are to have the Great Smoky Mountains National Park close by. This park is a haven for more than 19,000 different species, boasts tremendous diversity for native fish in its streams, and because it supports over 30 species, is often called the salamander capital of the world. Agriculture and the natural world that surrounds us teach us every day about the value of diversity, and those of us in tune with it listen to that message very clearly.

The Herbert College of Agriculture and all its family embrace, value, and appreciate diversity of every kind. We will need this diversity of thought as we face the challenges of feeding the world and safeguarding the environment for future generations. We do not tolerate hatred or bias of any kind as that violates the ethics and ideals that are an essential part of who we are. I am grateful to have students, faculty, and staff who demonstrate, by their actions, that we are one family who support, encourage, and appreciate each other. 

We seek to ensure that everyone in Herbert feels welcome and that all those that seek to gain an education here feel valued. We will spread that message and recruit particularly underrepresented groups. We will engage them quickly into Herbert life by offering a rich palette of activities and events. Our faculty will reinforce the message of acceptance and appreciation of all those who bring their unique selves to us. The challenges that we face are great but we are united under the sacred mission of the land grant and its philosophy of access for all.

Caula Beyl, Dean of the Herbert College of Agriculture

Our Programs

The Herbert College of Agriculture continuously strives to see students experience both academic and professional success. This initiative provides underrepresented students with successful skills for future achievement within the agricultural industry. The Herbert College Connections Early Access Program is a noncredit, invitation-only, accelerated fall early access program designed to assist incoming underrepresented freshman with a smooth transition to the University of Tennessee and the Herbert College of Agriculture.  

Students participating in the program will be granted benefits of moving into the residence hall a week early. Students will have early access to the university to begin building positive relationships with faculty, staff, and peers. Students will be exposed to campus life, resources and academic preparation tools to prepare for college courses. The program will also feature hands-on learning opportunities, tours, social and recreational activities during the week in the program. 

For more information about the August 2022 program, please contact the Craig Pickett, Jr., Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, at cpicket3@utk.edu.  

The Herbert College Connections Professional Development Program provides first-year underrepresented students and newly transferred underrepresented students with vital professional development training for their long-term success. The program provides participants with the necessary training, coaching, and career development competencies to ensure their success in some of the nation’s top agricultural industries.

Through their engagement in the program, students acquire vital information regarding summer internships, externships, research opportunities, study abroad programs, and graduate school preparation. In addition, participants will engage in fun social/recreational programs to ensure their continued success while at the University of Tennessee.

Lastly, participants will have a chance to compete for a limited number of specialized internships stipends for summer 2022 through the Herbert College Connections Professional Development Program.  

For more information about the Herbert College Connections Professional Development Program, program, please contact the Craig Pickett, Jr., Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, at cpicket3@utk.edu.  

We the members of this society pledge to support endeavors that will always foster and promote the agricultural sciences and related fields in a positive manner among ethnic minorities. We also pledge to initiate and participate in activities and programs that will ensure that ethnic minorities will also be involved in and associated with the agricultural sciences and related fields. We pledge to work for the inclusion, achievement, and advancement of all people in the agricultural sciences.

MANRRS is a national society that welcomes membership of people of all racial and ethnic group participation in agricultural and related science careers. MANRRS members are encouraged to be full participants in other professional societies for their basic disciplinary and career interests.

However, MANRRS attempts to provide networks to support professional development of minorities. It is a springboard for their entry into and advancement in careers where they otherwise could be lost in the sheer number and established connections of mainstream participants. For student members, MANRRS provides role models and networking opportunities.

MANRRS Herbert Executive Board

President: Windy Soto-Gonzalez


General Body Meetings take place bi-weekly on Thursdays.

Please contact MANRRS president Windy Soto-Gonzalez or Craig Pickett for more information.

The Queer and Allied Students of Herbert College of Agriculture serves as a organization to promote the education and engagement throughout the College. QUASHCA promotes co-curricular leadership, campus engagement, and professional development opportunities, while creating a stronger sense of belonging for members through educational activities highlighting LGBTQ issues within the agricultural industry.

For more information regarding QUASHCA, please contact Dr. Cheryl Kojima at ckojima@utk.edu

Sigma Alpha is a professional agricultural sorority that promotes scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship among its members. The sorority was founded in 1978 at the Ohio State University by five women who wanted an alternative to the social Greek sorority system. Since that time, Sigma Alpha has become a national organization consisting of more than 80 chapters, comprised of undergraduate and alumnae members. Today, more than 19,000 members have been initiated into Sigma Alpha Sorority.  The University of Tennessee Chapter of Sigma Alpha was founded in 1990. The Chapter focuses on the academic, personal, and professional success of women in agriculture through intentional programming, recreational activities, and career-related opportunities for growth, development and future success.  

For more information regarding Sigma Alpha, please click HERE.  

The International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS) is a global organization that brings together students from around the world together to discuss topics and issues related to international agriculture and related sciences. As the largest agricultural student organization in the world, IAAS has 10,000 members in 49 member counties.  IAAS UTK strives to provide a platform for discussion of important international issues in agriculture, such as food security and feeding the growing population, and also providing the opportunity for international networking and travel opportunities for members. If you have any questions, you can contact the Chapter Advisor, Dr. Adam Willcox, at awillcox@utk.edu

Students visiting with agriculture companies at diversity conference.

We pursue an inclusive and diverse academic program…