The Hardy Liston Jr. Symbol of Hope Award goes to a faculty member, staff member, or friend of the university who demonstrates a commitment to diversity, multiculturalism, and appreciation of the differences in people and cultures on our campus.
Javiette Samuel serves as associate vice chancellor, director of community engagement and outreach in the Division of Diversity and Engagement, and affiliated associate professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies. She is an experienced, engaged scholar who has worked with P-20 students, families, and underrepresented communities for over 25 years, focusing on engagement, outreach, and evidence-based programs. Samuel collaborates with units across campus on initiatives that require broad commitment and sustainable relationships related to the recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented faculty; cultivates university-community partnerships with local, state, regional, and national partners; works with units across campus to connect UT’s knowledge with the community in mutually beneficial ways; and identifies and tackles complex issues to help improve the lives of Tennessee’s citizens. She is a member of Leadership Knoxville’s 2021 class; serves on a variety of nonprofit boards and Knox County Community Health Council, and UT Black Alumni Council. She has been an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for over 25 years.
What does being a Volunteer mean to you? How has UT empowered you to make a difference in a way you might not have imagined elsewhere?
As a three-time UT alumni, administrator, and Knoxville native, Samuel has a vested interest in helping to ensure that every student, faculty and staff member, alumni, and visitor feels connected, respected, and valued. Being a Volunteer means taking action and staying vigilant as we build and sustain a culture on Rocky Top, where everyone matters and belongs and where everyone can not only survive, but thrive! After graduating with her PhD, she left Knoxville for 18 years. Coming back to UT has empowered her to provide opportunities to advance research engagement; build mutually beneficial partnerships that help ensure that UT is staying true to the access mission of the state’s research, flagship, land-grant university; and serve as thought-leader and champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some of the ways that she hopes to continue or improve salient initiatives include: focusing on data-driven initiatives; increasing communication and collaboration among a variety of internal and external stakeholders; supporting pathway opportunities for young scholars at Flagship High Schools; supporting historically underrepresented populations, both students and faculty; and advancing professional development opportunities for other Volunteers to be the best version of themselves. Through initiatives such as UT Inclusive Leadership Academy and serving as an Intercultural Development Inventory qualifying administrator she has solidified her efforts to provide leadership for the next generation of Volunteers!