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UT Joins the National Coalition Building Institute

The Division of Student Life is pleased to announce the launch of the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) as one of many initiatives designed to support, educate, and engage students, faculty, and staff on campus. NCBI is a proven leadership development program with the goal of reducing and eliminating bias, discrimination, controversy, and interpersonal conflict on college and university campuses.

Joining NCBI aids in the effort to build upon the university’s priority of diversity, equity, and inclusion work at the University of Tennessee. NCBI offers an additional way to provide education, training, and facilitation around diversity, equity, and inclusion, and community building for the campus community.

Photo of Frank Cuevas, Vice Chancellor for Student Life

Frank Cuevas, Vice Chancellor for Student Life

“Joining NCBI will further expand the services and opportunities that Student Life and the Office of Multicultural Student Life currently provide for students,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Life Frank Cuevas. In addition to MSL’s  Diversity Educators, who primarily focus on peer-to-peer education, NCBI facilitators will expand diversity education efforts to faculty and staff, and will eventually include students as well.

“One of the main advantages of UT becoming an NCBI campus is the fact that diversity and inclusion training will be more accessible and personal to offices, departments, and colleges from across campus; this work will reach every corner of campus,” says Cuevas. “Department heads, deans, and directors will have the ability to request a facilitator to host one of the NCBI workshops at their next retreat or staff training day.”

Since becoming a campus affiliate in February 2020, employees from various UT offices and departments have been attending training sessions to become NCBI team members. Comprised of UT community members from Multicultural Student Life, University Libraries, and Herbert College of Agriculture, University Housing, and other areas, the NCBI team will facilitate workshops for the university community.

Currently, there are two different workshops that UT faculty and staff members can attend: the Welcoming Diversity Workshop and the Controversial Issues Workshop. Additionally, colleges, departments, and offices have the opportunity to request either of the workshops currently offered through the NCBI team for staff development, meetings, and retreats.

Blake Weiss

Blake Weiss, Coordinator of Special Projects, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Life

The Welcoming Diversity Workshop focuses on celebrating each participant’s similarities and differences, recognizing the misinformation that may have been learned about various groups, and reevaluating personal attitudes and behaviors that are based on the impact of prejudice and discrimination.

The Controversial Issues Workshop is an award-winning NCBI workshop that trains leaders to deal constructively with tough conflicts, enabling them to move disputing parties toward future cooperation. Participants will learn how to accurately define a controversy, listen to and repeat back another side’s concerns, and reframe an issue in a way that produces action points that all sides can support.

The UT NCBI team is always looking to train additional facilitators to lead workshops. Those interested in learning more about what becoming a facilitator entails, NCBI trainings, and the current UT NCBI team, visit

“I guess you could say my initial interest in serving as a facilitator was taking the initiative to get to know the needs of campus related to equity and inclusion, so I signed up without hesitation… I was familiar with NCBI from my graduate school career but was unsure what serving as a facilitator would entail. I believe NCBI’s pedagogy to campus coalition building provides a unique and refreshing perspective that is appreciated by faculty, staff, and students. Having served as a facilitator for 2 student groups in my experience so far, I am eager to broaden our reach to the greater campus community. Coalition building takes people – so the more communities we can bring to the conversation, the greater opportunity we have for sustained positive social change. There are plenty of opportunities on UT’s campus to do better and be better – the NCBI facilitation team is prepared, competent, and ready to lead our campus community in this direction.”

Blake Weiss, coordinator of special projects in the Division of Student Life.

Both becoming an NCBI campus and having these workshops available to our campus community allows for each member of the community to continue the important work of listening and learning from other’s experiences, and engaging in conversation and action as it relates to diversity and inclusion on our campus.

Learn more about NCBI at UT.