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Diversity Professional Development Fund for Staff

The Diversity Professional Development Fund for Staff (DPDFS) was created to support the participation of university staff in diversity-related programs and conferences. To receive funding for diversity conferences, seminars, and other programs, an applicant must meet the staff eligibility requirements and adhere to the following guidelines.

  • UT Knoxville (UTK) exempt or non-exempt staff who have twelve or more months of regular, continuous service (minimum of 75% time) are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants should be committed to supporting work-related diversity awareness and inclusion.
  • Applicants must provide a letter of introduction detailing relevant goals and how the diversity program/conference/ seminar will benefit those goals.
  • Applicants must provide a written letter of support from their departmental supervisor, detailing the benefits of participation to the employee, department, and university.


Applicants must submit the following documents online to be considered for the fund:

  • Letter of introduction
  • Completed application form via link above.
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Published material that provides a description of the diversity aspect of the program requested, including cost.

The applicant should provide the completed application and all supporting documentation at least one month before the program.

Deadline: New applications are due on or before the following schedule:

  • FY2024: September 15, 2023, December 20, 2023, March 15, 2024, and June 10, 2024

Review: Applications will be reviewed by a multi-discipline cross-campus committee.

Awards: Communication of each award is by mail to the recipient, approximately four weeks after the application deadline. 

Selection Process

The DPDFS committee reviews all completed applications. An individual employee’s use of the DPDFS is limited to $1,000 in any fiscal year. The committee may choose to limit an individual cost center/department at any time during the fiscal year. An important factor in granting awards will be the potential benefits to the employee, the department, and to the university. The employee’s department must be committed to matching funds. Approved funds will be transferred to the employee’s department to offset reimbursement. Record of completion is required.

For more information:

Contact Shannon Bruce at or 865-974-6089.

Committee Members

  • Tarah Keeler, Chair, UT Knoxville Human Resources
  • Maria Martinez, Facilities Services
  • David Ndiaye, Student Disability Services
  • Phyllis Moore, Alumni Affairs