National Institute on Aging

Seven African Americans Who Have Been Appointed to Senior Posts as Diversity Officers

Faced with declining enrollments and financial shortfalls, many colleges and universities have significantly cut back on hiring new faculty and staff. At some schools, a hiring freeze has been enacted. But in the wake of worldwide Black Lives Matter rallies and other social justice protests, the hiring of diversity and inclusion officers at colleges and universities remains at a brisk pace. Here is a group of African Americans who have recently been hired to administrative posts dealing with diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Brent Lewis as the inaugural associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He has held administrative positions at Randolph College, Fayetteville State University, and North Carolina Central University.

Dr. Lewis earned a doctorate in leadership studies from North Carolina A&T State University.

Robin Kelley is the new associate chief diversity officer for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. She was president and CEO of the Kelley Consulting Firm in Morrisville, North Carolina. From 2016-2018, Dr. Kelley served as associate vice provost in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity at North Carolina State University.

Dr. Kelley holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance and a master’s degree in education from the University at Buffalo of the State University of New York System. She earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Iowa State University.

Nicole Commissiong was appointed associate vice president, chief civil rights officer, and Title IX coordinator at the University of Oregon. Since 2009, she had been serving as assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Commissiong was a track and field athlete at the University of Oregon while earning two bachelor’s degrees. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law.

Corrine Witherspoon is the new director of the William A. McClain Center for Diversity in the Office of Student Development at Wittenburg University in Springfield, Ohio. She had been serving as the assistant director of inclusive excellence and strategic retention at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Witherspoon earned a bachelor’s degree in Black world studies and English literature from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She holds a master’s degree in college student personnel from Ohio University and is currently working on a doctorate in educational leadership at Northern Kentucky University.

David E. Kirkland, an associate professor of English and urban education at New York University, has been given the added duties of vice dean of equity, belonging, and community action. Dr. Kirkland is the author of several books including A Search Past Silence: The Literacy of Young Black Men (Teachers College Press, 2013).

Dr. Kirkland holds a Ph.D. in language, literacy, and urban education from Michigan State University.

El pagnier Kay Hudson has been appointed vice provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Florida International University in Miami. She also was promoted to the position of senior vice president for human resources. Hudson came to FIU in 2010 as assistant vice president for human resources.

Hudson holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

Thelathia “Nikki” Young accepted an appointment to become provost for equity and inclusive excellence at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Dr. Young joined the faculty at the university in 2011 and serves as a professor of women’s and gender studies and religion.

Dr. Young earned a bachelor’s from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a doctorate in religious ethics from Emory University in Atlanta.


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  1. Dr. Ellecya R. McCants says:

    Congratulations to each of you on your appointment to Officers of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Your cumulative academic and administrative credentials underscore your preparedness to educate, inform and inspire university employees at large to embrace racial and ethnic differences.

    Dr. Ellecya R. McCants

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