Skip to main content

This job has expired

Executive Director of Access and Engagement, Academic Affairs and Student Success - UT System

Job Details


Executive Director of Access and Engagement, Academic Affairs and Student Success - The University of Tennessee System 

About the University of Tennessee System
The University of Tennessee System (UT System) includes campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Pulaski, Martin, and Memphis. The UT System enrolls more than 58,000 undergraduate and graduate students statewide, and more than 13,000 students graduate from UT System institutions each year with bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees. UT System institutions are committed to providing undergraduate, graduate, and professional education programs in diverse learning environments that prepare students to be leaders in a global society.

The UT System also has a presence in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties through UT Extension. With the combined force of education, discovery and outreach, UT System institutions serve students, families, business and industry, K-12 schools, governments, organizations and citizens statewide.

In 2022, the University of Tennessee System was named a certified Great Place to Work®. The Great Place to Work survey is based entirely on what current employees say about their experience working at all UT System institutions. Great Place to Work is the global authority on workplace culture, employee experience and the leadership behaviors proven to deliver market-leading revenue, employee retention and increased innovation. The UT System is proud to provide a great work environment for its nearly 11,000 faculty and over 19,000 staff members.

The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the University of Tennessee, overseeing the educational and operational activities of the statewide University system. The 12- member board is comprised of 1 ex officio member, who is the Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of Tennessee, and 11 appointed members, one of whom is a nonvoting student member. In addition to an Executive Committee, the Board has three Standing Committees: 1) Education, Research and Service, 2) Finance and Administration, and 3) Audit and Compliance. The Board Secretary is the principal staff liaison between the University administration and the Board of Trustees, with each committee also having a dedicated staff liaison from the UT System Administration. 

UT System Institutions
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) is the state’s flagship, land-grant institution. As Tennessee’s premier public research institution and co-manager of Oak Ridge National Laboratory – the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy lab – students and faculty have unparalleled access to some of the world’s greatest scientific minds and facilities. The university also includes the UT Space Institute and Institute for Agriculture, putting total enrollment at almost 34,000 students across 13 colleges and schools. From its 225-year history to 11 colleges and more than 900 undergraduate and graduate programs of study, UT Knoxville offers an experience that positions students and employees for life-long success.

The UT Health Science Center (UTHSC) is Tennessee’s only statewide, public, academic health science institution, and is the state's largest educator of health care professionals. Located in southwest Tennessee and a little more than a mile from Memphis’ famous Beale Street, the UT Health Science Center is to thank for educating the vast majority of the state’s healthcare providers. More than 3,100 students are enrolled at the UT Health Science Center, which includes six colleges—dentistry, graduate health sciences, health professions, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Beyond its main campus in Memphis, graduate medical education programs are offered in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville; family medicine centers in Jackson and Knoxville; dentistry clinics in Bristol, Jackson and Union City; as well as public and continuing education programs across the state. From scientific discovery to clinical care and public service, the UT Health Science Center is Tennessee’s driver of healthcare education and patient care.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Located in southeast Tennessee, UT Chattanooga is a metropolitan campus in the heart of downtown Chattanooga and is home to more than 11,000 students representing all areas of the globe. With four colleges, more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs and concentrations and a campus-wide commitment to meaningful learning experiences beyond the classroom, UT Chattanooga is a vibrant campus with endless opportunities.

The University of Tennessee at Martin Located in rural northwest Tennessee, UT Martin is a predominantly undergraduate institution committed to broadening the horizons of its 7,000 students and positioning them for success. UT Martin is a comprehensive campus with five colleges offering more than 100 academic areas of study within 18 undergraduate degree programs. The campus also offers five graduate degrees within 17 specialized concentrations. Focused on providing access to higher education, UT Martin has more off-campus centers than any public four-year university in the state and is the UT System’s largest provider of online education.

The University of Tennessee Southern (UTS) Located in southern middle Tennessee, UT Southern is approximately 70 miles south of Nashville and 40 miles north of Huntsville, Alabama. The campus is nestled in the small community of Pulaski and enrolls nearly 1,000 students. A predominantly undergraduate institution, UT Southern and is the newest campus to join the UT System, evolving from UT’s acquisition of Martin Methodist College in 2021. Students enrolled in UT Southern’s 6 academic divisions during the 2023 academic year, enjoying a small, personalized campus experience. More than 30 academic programs of study are available through the divisions of business, education, humanities, mathematics and sciences, nursing, and social sciences.

Supporting Campuses and Institutes to Achieve Inclusive Excellence
The Executive Director of Access and Engagement will join the UT System at a time of enormous opportunity and potential impact. Reporting to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Research, and Student Success, and serving as a member of the division’s leadership team, this unique role will consult and partner with system, campus, institute leaders to advance efforts across the UT System to deliver on the university’s access mission while ensuring that our communities are inclusive and provide meaningful opportunities for all students, faculty, and staff to engage in ways that advance our shared commitment to education, discovery, and outreach. The Executive Director will work with colleagues to identify and address barriers (e.g., structural, administrative, social, financial, etc.) that are impediments to delivering on our land grant mission. The Executive Director will help to position the UT System as a beacon of light for civility and respect and will champion a culture of engagement and belonging by providing leadership in an environment that actively promotes access while also focusing on actions and strategies that advance measurable outcomes at all levels of the University.

In collaboration with campus leaders, this role will assist in the prioritization of access and engagement initiatives and will support and encourage actionable efforts that advance inclusive excellence across the academic enterprise. The Executive Director will add value systemwide by providing a high degree of coordination and support to the campuses and institutes including convening campus partners, facilitating solutions to shared obstacles, coordinating resources, and sharing expertise in best practices. The Executive Director will also serve as a resource to the campuses for metrics and accountability and will coordinate necessary systemwide engagements (e.g., summits, retreats, etc.) to foster cross-team collaboration throughout the UT System. Additionally, the Executive Director will partner with the System’s Government Relations and Advocacy team and the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Research, and Student Success to serve as a statewide advocate with the legislature and the UT Board of Trustees. 

The successful candidate will have a demonstrated ability to build and implement an enterprise-wide access and engagement strategy while also leveraging key skills such as relationship building, partnership development, and assessment and communication of results. Critical to the success of this role is a strong focus on teamwork, collaboration, and listening to understand. Duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Working closely with senior leaders and campus partners to advance a System-wide approach to access and engagement by developing and assessing strategies and related tactics that support mission-critical activities such as the recruitment, retention, and engagement of students, faculty, and staff.
  • Being a system-wide ambassador for access and engagement and working to coordinate and align our work through data-driven approaches that focuses on results and the impact of our efforts.
  • Serving as a consultative resource, sharing best practice research and expertise including the development of matrixes for measuring performance for accountability purposes.
  • In collaboration with campus and institute counterparts, designing, developing, and championing initiatives that build, expand, and support access and engagement throughout the UT System while removing obstacles to achieve success in these areas.
  • Supporting the campuses and institutes by providing leadership and support for strategic planning, the development of initiatives, data and decision support, policy counseling, etc.
  • Providing leadership in the development of systemwide training and development opportunities related to access and engagement and will assist the training needs of stakeholders such as our Board of Trustees.
  • Producing and sharing reports and on key metrics with the Board and other stakeholders to measure the success of access and engagement initiatives.
  • Working with external groups and professional organizations interested in common issues and concerns related to access and engagement to achieve synergy and interconnectedness at all campuses and institutes.
  • Administering access and engagement policies and programs per the System’s strategic plan.
  • Working with campus counterparts to ensure appropriate integration of systemwide inclusive excellence goals throughout the UT Strategic Plan and ensuring any related risks to these goals are identified and addressed as part of the System’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) efforts.
  • Working closely with access and engagement partners at each campus and institute to develop and monitor access and engagement plans and activities that coincides with the System strategic plan and ensures goals and objectives are consistently met.
  • Assisting the Vice President and President in ensuring executive and senior leaders receive appropriate trainings through the UT Learning Management System (LMS).
  • Being actively involved in access and engagement efforts consistent with the University’s mission including developing programs and partnership with internal and external organizations focused on access, engagement, and inclusive excellence. 
  • Providing support and assistance in developing, promoting, and informing access and engagement initiatives and related marketing and communications efforts.

 Access and Engagement Advisory Council
The Executive Director has historically coordinated and convened a council to inform and support the access and engagement work happening systemwide. The council’s work should be tied directly to the University’s Strategic Plan and used to also support measurable campus/institute-based access and engagement efforts. 


Qualities & Qualifications
An advanced degree is required, and a terminal degree is preferred. Additional training, education and certifications are strongly desired. Experience in higher education, and specifically experience in a multi-campus university system, is highly desirable. Five years of progressive experience and demonstrated effectiveness leading access and engagement related initiatives and programs is required. Additional qualifications include:

  • success in facilitating effective partnerships with and between constituencies, applying effective techniques to achieve meaningful impact
  • a track record of measurable institutional change and skill in developing vision and strategies that inspire others
  • demonstrated experience structuring and measuring the effectiveness of programs to best serve the University’s educational goals while meeting federal and state legal requirements
  • a fundamental inclination to listen to understand all perspectives and experiences

 Specific skills for the Executive Director of Access and Engagement should include:  

  •  demonstrated leadership skills and abilities
  • commitment to quality and integrity
  • brings a record of success in facilitating effective partnerships with and between constituencies
  • a track record of institutional change-demonstrating skills in developing vision and strategies that inspire others
  • ability to approach challenges with systems-level thinking to work toward change rather than singular remedies
  • a history of driving innovation and finding new solutions that lead to tangible results
  • demonstrated effectiveness impacting and leading access, engagement, and organizational change initiatives
  • ability to leverage data for decision-making and to assess initiatives/programs for effectiveness
  • history of successful collaboration with multiple constituencies
  • ability to exercise diplomacy to engage others in productive dialogues that advance access, engagement, and inclusive excellence
  • exceptional skills in communications and interpersonal relations, including the ability to present complex issues to internal and external audiences
  • knowledge of and commitment to affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policies, laws and practices
  • demonstrated ability to foster a culture of accountability throughout the University
  • skilled decision-maker, with transparency in decision-making and management
  • excellent oral, written and presentation skills; exceptional listening skills
  • ability to multi-task
  • ability to travel frequently

The Executive Director for Access and Engagement will exhibit qualities of emotional maturity, genuineness, humility, common sense, judgment, fairness, creativity, discretion, decisiveness, political savvy, diplomacy, cultural awareness tact, resiliency, adaptability, courage of convictions, and tolerance for ambiguity.  Demonstrated behavioral expectations include:

  • unquestioned integrity and trustworthiness
  • ability to act independently, take initiative, build consensus, and exercise sound judgement
  • commitment to the University’s mission and strategic plan, as well as missions and strategic plans for each campus/institute
  • ability to build relationships and to establish collaborative partnerships across the University and externally.
  • ability to make good, consistent, and fair decisions (based on fact and data)
  • ability to work with cross-functional teams and to foster teamwork

Job: Executive/Administrative
Primary Location: US-Tennessee-knoxville
Organization: Academic Affairs
Schedule: Full-time
Job Posting: Dec 20, 2023, 10:44:12 AM


Working at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Founded in 1794, the University of Tennessee is one of the nation’s oldest and most storied public universities. Based in Knoxville, Tennessee’s flagship land-grant institution includes the statewide Institute of Agriculture and the Space Institute in Tullahoma. The university embodies excellence in teaching, discovery, scholarship, research, creative activity, outreach, and engagement. Known as the Volunteers, we lead with a spirit of selflessness, empathy, and courage, and strive to be champions for diversity, equity, and inclusion

UT Knoxville is a Research 1 university with 11 academic colleges and more than 900 programs of study. With an enrollment of more than 30,000 students, our academic programs are repeatedly ranked top in their class. The university co-manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the country’s most prominent national lab, driving innovation in advanced manufacturing and materials, national security, and more. We are closely connected with our communities through outreach and extension efforts across Tennessee and through partnerships with non-profits, corporations, and industries—regionally, nationally, and around the globe.

The city of Knoxville is nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The modern, thriving community is surrounded by gorgeous lakes and hundreds of miles of walking, hiking, and biking trails. Situated along the banks of the Tennessee River, our beautiful features an eclectic music scene, internationally recognized festivals, unique restaurants, and a robust offering of diverse cultural activities. Knoxville is located within a day’s drive of Atlanta, Nashville, Asheville, Charlotte, Louisville, Cincinnati, Memphis, Chicago, and Washington D.C.

Knoxville and the surrounding counties have a population of more than 850,000 people. The region houses many leading corporations and organizations, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pilot/Flying J, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Regal Cinemas, along with HGTV, Food Network, and other networks owned by Discovery Inc.

As a member of the UT family, you will be surrounded by top-notch faculty, staff, and students from around the world. You will be part of a diverse campus community that is passionate about changing the world and cheering for the Vols on game day.

Get job alerts

Create a job alert and receive personalized job recommendations straight to your inbox.

Create alert