University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro said the controversy about inclusive holiday parties on the Knoxville campus never rose to “the level of needing to think about accepting a resignation or termination,” the News-Sentinel reports.
But he told reporters in Nashville the university apologized for the post on the Office for Diversity and Inclusion’s website. “We felt that moving forward it would be best to clear the air and say we understand some people were offended,” DiPietro said, noting he thought the post could be improved, because using “hot-button items” like Christmas and dreidels — along with an earlier post recommending gender-neutral pronouns for transgender students — wasn’t needed to make the point.
DiPietro said he worked with Chancellor Jimmy Cheek for the past three days on a response and was at a state Senate higher education subcommittee on Tuesday. But lawmakers didn’t ask DiPietro about the holiday party controversy. The university president also said he was sorry to see the latest calls from lawmakers for defunding the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at UT.