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This is a time of budgetary constraint, if not crisis, for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and for the country as a whole. Yet even as the economy deteriorated last fall, the election of the nation’s first African American president signaled a new era in our history, empowering a people too long excluded from full equality. The Obama administration has placed LGBT equality squarely on the national agenda (see and the victories of marriage equality advocates in several states this spring suggest that, even as we face severe economic conditions, our national commitment to fairness, inclusion and equality is strong and growing.

Those values are also the values of the University and the change seen in other parts of the country will, sooner or later, impact this campus. The university’s primary mission is the education of our students and as a land grant institution we also serve and educate the entire citizenry. Teaching – and learning – is not solely about *what* we teach, be it history or biophysics or economics, but also about *how* we teach. How we teach – how we model what we value – can be, in the end, even more important than the content of a specific curriculum or degree program. If we do not include and welcome diverse populations to our campus, then all the words we speak about equality will mean very little. Effective inclusion is greater than words alone and must also include actions. Actions require commitments of time, energy and financial resources. Where we place our treasure will conclusively teach everyone what our values are.

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