By Tayla Courage
Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, manager of diversity and inclusion, is packing up his office at Volunteer State Community College after accepting a position at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.
He will be joining the Warhawk faculty as its chief equity diversity and inclusion officer.
Prepping for a move north has not been a simple task, according to Yarbrough, who is simultaneously in the process of completing his fifth academic degree.
“It’s a lot. Unpacking, packing, trying to find a house, and then I have to go home and try to work on chapter three. It’s something that nobody else can do but me, so it’s staring at the computer for days and days, and commiserating like you have got to get this done,” he said.
Having been open for just over a year, the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives is a newer addition to Vol State. It is responsible for coordinating educational trainings and events aimed at identifying various diversity and inclusion issues that exist on and off campus.
He described his time at Vol State as “very educational” and “a growing process.”
“It has helped me to really determine the type of work that I want to continue to do,” said Yarbrough.
While he is unsure of who will be filling the role of manager in his absence, Yarbrough said he is hopeful that the momentum will continue with the aid of faculty members who have become “practitioners of diversity and inclusion.”
“We have wonderful faculty who really have taken an interest in this. I’m hoping that whoever they get to find as my replacement will be able to touch base with those persons and continue the work that I have started here.”
Dr. Michael Torrence, assistant vice president of academic affairs, acknowledged Yarbrough’s “exceptional” role at Vol State and congratulates him on his future endeavors.
“His willingness to connect with students and provide guidance, leadership, and a listening ear will be missed. However, he has a wonderful opportunity ahead of him, and he will be successful,” wrote Torrence.
Dr. Melva Black, chair of the communication department, furthered this sentiment with the Booker T. Washington quote: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
“He has worked tirelessly to build awareness, understanding, and compassion among people of diverse backgrounds. Dr. Yarbrough’s contributions have been thoughtful and selfless, which is essential for identifying and pursuing avenues to serve and uplift those with whom he has worked in academia and the community.
“He leaves a poignant legacy for all to emulate,” wrote Black.
In his concluding words, Yarbrough thanked Vol State for allowing him the opportunity to interact and potentially influence students, who he defines as “the life blood of any institution.”