Renetta Garrison Tull becomes UC Davis’ vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion on July 1, but she’s already getting to know the university and emailing with her future colleagues.
“I’ll start off quietly by getting to know the area,” she said. “Then I plan to take a very comprehensive approach with the students, faculty and staff, across disciplines, across campuses.”
An engineer, Tull was previously associate vice provost for strategic initiatives at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as well as director for graduate and professional pipeline development and special assistant to the senior vice chancellor for the University System of Maryland.
The diversity, equity and inclusion vice chancellor’s post is new to UC Davis, established by Chancellor Gary S. May to examine recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff, as well as lead the new Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Why did you want to apply for this position?
The creation of this position signaled a strong commitment. Not a lip service position, but one that had the plan and a commitment to really make sure that diversity, equity and inclusion were among the core tenets of the university.
What can a vice chancellor in this position do for a school?
A vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion can bring some light to the high-profile programs that UC Davis is already involved with, and make sure people in the community and on campus know that UC Davis is a place where we want students, as I say, to get what they came for. It’s the idea that when students, faculty and staff come, they should be able to fulfill whatever it is they came to get, regardless of their background or their economic status. And we want the community as a whole to be able to have that as a mantra.
How do you expect to approach this new position?
I have my own way of thinking, but I don’t want that to supersede what has already been put in place and work that has already been done. I want to see how we can connect my philosophy of “getting what you came for” and being a protector of the things that are already great to how it fits within a set strategic plan. If there are things that need to be changed, we would be having those conversations.
What are you proudest to have achieved in your current position?
I am most proud of helping to provide and create an environment where students from diverse backgrounds were able to literally achieve their dreams. I recruited several from undergraduate institutions, helped to set up certain kinds of programs by grants, produced papers, worked with faculty to really provide pathways that have been conducive to undergraduate and graduate degree completion.