Thura Mack Recognized at Chancellor’s Honors Banquet

Thura Mack, Assistant Dean for Libraries Community Learning and Engagement, was awarded the Hardy Liston Jr. Symbol of Hope Award at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet on April 30.

Thura Mack at Chancellor's Honors Banquet, April 30, 2024

The Hardy Liston Jr. Symbol of Hope Award goes to a faculty member, staff member, or friend of the university who demonstrates a commitment to diversity and multiculturalism.

As head of the Libraries’ Community Learning and Engagement department, Mack leads the Libraries’ outreach to K-12 students. Community Learning and Engagement reaches well over a thousand students each year with programming and educational opportunities for K-12 students in Tennessee. One example is Big Orange Stem Saturday, which engages high school students in hands-on learning and networking with leaders in STEM technologies. Her partnerships with local schools give K-12 students skills for lifelong learning, the confidence to see themselves as potential college students, and in many cases, real-world experience using the tools and technologies of scholarship.

Mack leads the Libraries’ Belonging and Engagement Committee, which facilitates campus-wide programming on diversity and inclusion. She has served on numerous campus-wide boards such as the Commission for Blacks, the Commission for Women, the Division of Diversity and Engagement’s Faculty Advisory board, the TLI Inclusive Teaching Task Force, and the Campus Diversity Leads Program.

Recently, Mack assumed the role of co-advisor of the National Society for Black Engineers, where she acts as a champion for young students adjusting to college life and becoming new professionals. She led the Libraries’ former Diversity Residency Program, which launched careers and shaped leaders at the highest levels of the library profession. Over the past thirty years, Mack has mentored countless early-career librarians, many from underrepresented populations.

Her commitment to UT and the broader community has not gone unnoticed. She was the university’s 2021–2022 Macebearer — the second African American to receive UT’s highest faculty honor. In August 2022, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon declared that August 25 would be recognized from that day forward as Thura Mack Day.

Despite her tireless efforts on behalf of students and colleagues, Mack’s response to her most recent award was gratitude: “The university has constantly given me opportunities to expand and better myself, which I am continually excited to give back to my surrounding community.”