A Quartet of African Americans Who Have Been Assigned New Diversity Duties in Higher Education

Barbara Lofton, assistant dean for the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, has joined the board of the Business School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Collaborative. The collaborative’s mission is to “advance diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in higher education through hosting conferences to discuss best practices and programs, granting awards and serving as a resource for educators and businesspeople who are interested in increasing the opportunities for historically underrepresented groups.”

Dr. Lofton earned a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education, and recreation at Jackson State University in Mississippi. She holds a master’s degree in recreation education from the University of Iowa and an educational doctorate from Grambling State University in Louisiana.

Linwood B. Whitten is the new assistant vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Cleveland State University. He was assistant vice president for diversity and international affairs at Alabama State University in Montgomery.

Dr. Whitten holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. He earned a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from Arkansas State University and a doctorate in chiropractic from Life University in Marietta, Georgia.

Shawna Nesbitt is the inaugural vice president and chief diversity, equity, and Inclusion officer at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She has been serving as associate dean of student affairs in the Office of Student Diversity & Inclusion at the university. Dr. Nesbitt has been on the faculty since 2001.

Dr. Nesbitt is a graduate of Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. She holds a master’s degree in clinical research design and statistical analysis from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a medical doctorate from what is now the Drexel University College of Medicine.

Nicole Hodges Persley, an associate professor of American studies and African and African American studies, has been named vice provost for diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging at the University of Kansas. She has been serving in the position on an interim basis since January. She is the author of the book Sampling and Remixing Blackness in Hip-Hop Theater and Performance (University of Michigan Press, 2021).

Dr. Persley is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, where she majored in French. She holds a master’s degree in African American studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. in American studies and ethnicity from the University of Southern California.


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