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Leading a Diversity Culture Shift: The Pivotal Role of Academic Leadership

Institutional Culture Leadership & Management

Leading a Diversity Culture Shift: The Pivotal Role of Academic Leadership

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On college campuses around the nation, students have exerted pressure for progress to be made on diversity and social change. Student demonstrations that began in 2014 and 2015 have taken place in an increasingly hostile national climate and in the face of intervention by conservative legislators in the governance of public higher education. Student activists have expressed impatience with the pace of diversity change and have requested leadership support, policy changes, and systematic diversity training. On some campuses, pockets of resistance to diversity have stymied progress, and efforts to implement change have been met with skepticism by alumni and external stakeholders. One of the most salient examples is the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK), where the withdrawal of state funding for diversity by the conservative state legislature caused the shuttering of the diversity office and led to high-level administrative turnover.

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