Craig Pickett Jr. serves as the director for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. He graduated from Davidson College in May of 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. After discovering a passion for student development and higher education administration, Craig matriculated to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in May of 2010 with his Master of Arts in student affairs in higher education. Throughout his career, Craig has worked with various institutions, including the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Craig has worked with college students on a wide array of functional areas within student affairs, including admissions and recruitment, multicultural programming, first-year initiatives, college student retention, and academic support services.
As the lead DEI liaison for three of UTIA’s four units (the Herbert College of Agriculture, UT AgResearch, and UT Extension), Craig is working to dismantle systemic barriers while promoting cultural competency, professional development, and a greater sense of belonging. He is facilitating best practices for enhancing inclusivity and engagement across UTIA, including at the ten AgResearch and Education Centers and the UT Extension offices in all 95 counties throughout the state of Tennessee.
He previously served as the coordinator for student life and diversity programming within the Herbert College of Agriculture. He spent four years developing action plans that promoted multicultural student recruitment, retention, and academic success through intentional programs, resource development, and cross-campus collaboration. He partnered with departments, units, and colleges across the University, including the Tickle College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences, to create institutional resources that promoted academic success for all students, particularly underrepresented scholars.
Through strategic partnership and implementation, he developed a successful three-week Intercollegiate Summer Bridge Program, an annual STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics) Minority Mentoring Program, and the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation professional development program for hundreds of underrepresented students across the university. In addition, he coordinated all aspects of student development for the Herbert College of Agriculture by overseeing 30+ student organizations, coordinating orientation programming, managing the College’s Living Learning Community, and teaching nine-month leadership courses for sixty-two first-year agricultural students annually.
He is currently earning his PhD in higher education administration from the University of Tennessee. In his spare time, Craig is an active member of the Knoxville community, where he focuses on youth development. He serves as a board member for Girl Talk, Inc., a local non-profit that focuses on the academic, personal, and professional development for hundreds of elementary, middle, and high school girls throughout Knox County. He also serves as an advisory council member for the Knoxville Area Urban League National Achievers Society, a scholastic organization for hundreds of underrepresented high school scholars throughout Knox County Schools. He serves as a mentor for the Emerald Youth Foundation Calling and Career Ministry. Lastly, he serves as the board co-chair for the United Way of Greater Knoxville’s Young Leaders Collective, a group focused on addressing social issues within the Knoxville community and identifying ways to promote social, cultural, and economic success for all citizens. One of his favorite quotes, by Marian Wright Edelman, states “Service is the rent we pay to be living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.”