Michael Alston, EdD, CCDP/AP, assistant vice chancellor for Equity and Diversity, Title IX coordinator, and chief diversity officer at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has been named to the new position of associate vice chancellor for Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity at UTHSC. The appointment is effective June 30.
Additionally, the Office of Equity and Diversity will become the Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity (OIED).
“This realignment emphasizes the importance of inclusion and diversity at UTHSC,” said Chancellor Steve Schwab, MD. Dr. Alston will report directly to the chancellor. He will also have a reporting relationship to the executive vice chancellor in matters involving policy and staff, and the vice chancellor for Academic, Faculty, and Student Affairs in matters involving students and faculty, Chancellor Schwab said. The inclusion, equity, and diversity officers in the various colleges will have a dual reporting relationship to Dr. Alston and their college deans.
“Our name change acknowledges that UTHSC values a culture that is inclusive, where everyone feels they belong,” Dr. Alston said. “Moreover, the order of the wording has meaning as to how equity, regarding practices and opportunity, is configured, as well as to the importance of diversity, or who is at the table, through recruitment and retention. The experiences of students, trainees, staff, and faculty will remain a focus of OIED with elevation through the Office of the Chancellor.”
Dr. Alston was appointed assistant vice chancellor for the UTHSC Office of Equity and Diversity in 2012, after serving in various roles at UTHSC since 2002. He has worked in the University of Tennessee System for more than 30 years in a variety of positions.
In 2020, Dr. Alston received the UT President’s Award in the category of Diversity. The President’s Awards, given in six categories, are the highest honor a UT employee can receive from the system.
“Dr. Alston has worked tirelessly to promote diversity and inclusion at UTHSC,” said Dr. Schwab, in nominating Dr. Alston for the award. “While it is assumed, he would focus on this area given his position, he continually exceeds expectations and creates innovative programs that stretch his office beyond standard responsibilities.”
Initiatives launched under Dr. Alston’s leadership include:
- The Diversity Certificate Program that began in 2017 for faculty and staff. The program brings together cohorts from across the campus to learn about the concepts essential to an inclusive workplace.
- The Diversity Passport Program and the Diversity and Inclusion Book Club that continue the conversation. The Diversity Passport Program helps participants connect with each other and their community, allowing them to “see, taste, learn, listen, read, and immerse themselves experientially in a diverse and inclusive Memphis.”
- The Diversity and Inclusion Mini-Grants funded through a partnership with the vice chancellors and deans that offer grants of $1,000 to $3,000 for projects that fit the university’s diversity goals.
Dr. Alston holds a doctoral degree from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University and a professional diversity management certificate from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in educational psychology and guidance.