Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Year-End Report, 2020-21

Chairs: Joan Heminway and Catherine Luther

The Commission for Women (“CFW”) 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 of women on the campus. The CFW reports directly to the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee.

CFW 2020-2021 Main Priorities/Goals:

  • Follow-up on last year’s work on salary equity study (including by deepening the study to include race)
  • Work to centralize information on campus leadership/professional development education and training opportunities
  • Work to combat bullying and other inappropriate workplace behaviors that threaten personal safety 
  • Programming and messaging on voting rights in connection with the presidential election and the final part of the celebration of 100 years of voting for women
  • Study the differential impact based on gender of the COVID-19 pandemic on staff and faculty

CFW 2020-2021 Progress and Achievements:

In spite of challenges associated with the pandemic, the CFW had a productive academic year. The following are highlights of some of the accomplishments:

  • The CFW Awards Committee collaborated with campus partners to increase awareness of the CFW award opportunities. As a result of this effort, a high number of outstanding nominations were received and worthy recipients were selected for the awards.
  • The CFW Communications Committee worked together with the CFW co-chairs and GRA to improve the CFW website and add a new streaming video feature to the site. The first video content that was produced by CFW for the site was a conversation between CFW co-chair Joan Heminway and College of Law Professor Valerie Vojdik regarding the life and achievements of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The committee also drafted social media guidelines in preparation for the launch of a CFW Twitter feed this fall. In addition, the committee worked closely with the CFW Events Committee to plan and promote CFW-sponsored events that took place this past academic year.
  • The CFW Events Committee organized and executed three successful online events. The first, “Burnout to Balance: A Conversation with Booth Andrews,” featured motivational speaker Booth Andrews. The second event was a virtual “story time” with Susan Groenke, Professor of English Education and Director of the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature that was designed for UTK parents and their children. In line with the CFW’s voting rights priority, the featured book was Vote for Our Future by Margaret McNamara. The third event organized by the committee was “Lighting Your Path: A Workshop on Cultivating Career Advancement,” a successful first-time event that focused on professional development for campus staff.
  • The CFW Equity Committee completed a comprehensive report on diversity and salary equity that included analyses by race/ethnicity and by gender. The report focused on all tenure-line faculty at UTK. The committee also developed a script for future similar analyses.
  • The CFW Professional Development and Mentoring Committee developed a detailed plan to create and maintain a one-stop website that will serve as a landing page for all UTK professional development opportunities. The plan is in the process of implementation and will be executed during the coming academic year. The committee also created a Professional Development special event Channel on the UTK Events calendar.
  • The CFW Work and Family Committee researched the types of childcare resources that each SEC institution is providing for their employees. The committee will be engaged in a comparative analysis of the data collected. The committee has also been in dialogue with the Division of Diversity and Engagement on how work-family questions could be included in the campus climate survey that should be launched next academic year. 
  • CFW’s interests in combating campus bullying were pursued through representation on the Provost’s campus Workplace Bullying Task Force.


CFW Recommendations for Campus Administration:

  • Provide administrative, personnel, and other support for a new one-stop website that will serve as a landing page for all UTK professional development opportunities and the marketing of/communication regarding the same
  • Conduct regular annual discussions with campus academic unit leaders regarding faculty salary inequities and lack of diversity to determine the underlying reasons behind the differences
  • Consider ways in which unit leaders (deans, department heads, etc.) could be held responsible for reviewing the OIRA Report on salaries and addressing faculty salary inequities with a valid explanation or plan for correction
  • Assure that the CFW awardees are honored at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet on an annual basis with invitations for attendance by the awardees and at least one CFW representative 
  • Review process for selection of Governor’s Chairs and unit leadership to ensure compliance with expectations of diversity and inclusion required for UTK faculty searches
  • Work with the commissions, the council, and others to address any issues faced by women, especially BIPOC women, because of the COVID-19 and racial justice challenges of 2020-21
  • Identify coverage overlaps among the commission committees and activities of the council to identify and facilitate collaboration opportunities
  • Increase visibility of the commissions and the council and their work
  • Facilitate the participation of staff in the commissions and their leadership (since some staff are discouraged from participating due to, among other things, perceived conflicts with work responsibilities) 
  • Improve marketing of/publicity regarding commission awards


CFW 2021-22 Recommended Priorities: 

  • Work with campus partners to implement the one-stop website that will serve as a landing page for all UTK professional development opportunities
  • Continue to support the Diversity and Salary Equity Report for tenure-line and non-tenure-line faculty and related communications with the Office of the Provost 
  • Support investigation into disproportionate effects of COVID-19 and racial injustice on faculty, staff, and students (especially in regard to effects on the scholarly performance of women and underrepresented faculty and the return of caretakers to campus); report results to campus administration
  • Provide campus administration with an assessment of how UTK childcare offerings compare to those of other SEC and peer-aspirational institutions
  • Provide specific, actionable policy recommendations to campus administration to improve the ways the university can support women with childcare needs