Dr. Thomas Witherspoon, the new chief diversity officer, was brought to The University of Tampa to help the university move forward with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Witherspoon is planning to do many things not only on UT’s campus but around the Tampa community as well. Branching out and networking with other diversity programs in the community and nationally are some of Witherspoon’s long-term goals.
“I would hope Dr. Witherspoon would encourage new and older students alike to join clubs and other organizations on campus,” said sophomore and music technology major Jack Dunning. “I think one of the most important parts of being at UT is to utilize the wide range of student run organizations, and by encouraging students to join them, our chief diversity officer can accomplish his goals of inclusivity and diversity.”
Some ways that Witherspoon suggests students can get involved on campus is to join the 16 clubs that value diversity, equity, and inclusion. Black Student Union (BSU) and Unity are some of the well-known and larger organizations on campus. Witherspoon also hopes that more clubs surrounding these topics will be made.
A few weeks ago, Witherspoon made a speech at a BSU meeting. At this meeting, students and staff were invited to network with each other and inform students that there are staff on campus that will be there for them.
Witherspoon gave a speech talking about his “why.” Why he chose UT and his vision. He highlighted how he came to UT because the school wants to see change.
According to Witherspoon, the staff at UT are proactive, and they were very welcoming to his position.
He says his vision is all about being “strategic and sustainable.”
“I want to build an ecosystem with curricular and cocurricular experience,” said Witherspoon.
“I’m so happy to see that we have a chief diversity officer,” said Roman Campbell, junior psychology major. “I think that it will help promote community and enhance the UT experience for diverse populations that may have previously been underrepresented. I think it’s a major step forward in providing a more positive, enriching experience for the future incoming classes.”
According to Witherspoon, his short term goals include collecting more data through a survey asking staff, faculty, and students how they are feeling on campus regarding DEI.
The survey will launch Jan. 17, 2022.
“I know I can’t change everyone. People are continuously changing and growing,” said Witherspoon.
Photo Courtesy of The University of Tampa.