Stacy Lightfoot appointed UTC vice chancellor for diversity and engagement

Stacy Goodwin Lightfoot has been appointed the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s first vice chancellor for diversity and engagement.

She will join UTC effective July 1.

Lightfoot has spent her career guiding low-income and first-generation students to succeed in higher education. She comes to UTC after spending the last 12 years with the Public Education Foundation (PEF), most recently as the organization’s executive vice president.

PEF is a nonprofit organization that provides training, research and resources to teachers, principals and schools in Hamilton County and the surrounding area.

“I am not only thinking about what this appointment means for me, but also what it means for the University, for the city of Chattanooga and for young women of color: To be the first woman of color in a cabinet-level position,” Lightfoot said. “It is life-changing for me.”

In announcing the selection, UTC Chancellor Steven Angle pointed to Lightfoot’s track record of innovation and support and her ability to leverage resources and partnerships in fostering meaningful and inclusive experiences that lead to student success.

Lightfoot, who has a history of working for education reform, recently concluded her third year as chair of the Chancellor’s Multicultural Advisory Council.

“Stacy brings a wealth of experience, insight and relational resources to our campus,” Angle said. “She will provide leadership in diversity and engagement work, including equity-driven initiatives, compliance and accountability for diversity and inclusion elements of our strategic plan.”

Lightfoot received a bachelor’s degree in communication from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and a master’s in international service from the University of Roehampton in London, England.

Her international experiences also include studying abroad at Temple University’s Rome, Italy, campus and at the University of Technology in Kingston, Jamaica.

A native of Chattanooga, Lightfoot was the daughter of a single mother. Her life story positions her as an expert able to speak from the heart about closing opportunity gaps faced by many economically disadvantaged and historically marginalized students.

“Statistics suggested that I would continue to live in poverty, work a low-wage job and not obtain a college degree,” she shared. “If a poor, black girl from the east side of Chattanooga can overcome barriers to attend college on full financial aid package and study abroad in Italy, other students can do it, too.”

In January 2016, Lightfoot was part of the launch of PEF’s STEP-UP Chattanooga program, a high school internship that has connected more than 1,300 low-income students to Chattanooga’s top companies and organizations.

The passionate advocate for young people was invited in May 2015 to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on what low-income and first-generation students need to know to make informed decisions about college.

She returned to Washington, D.C., in 2017 to speak to congressional staff about simplifying the federal financial form. Lightfoot has been named a Woman of Distinction of Greater Chattanooga. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the National College Attainment Network.