Our Top 10: University Leaders Exploring Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace

By Nonnie Egbuna

Institutions of higher education are often launchpads for radical discourse and meaningful action. Still, facilitating discussions amongst administrators, faculty and staff, and student bodies is no small feat. Let’s raise a toast to ten universities having big conversations around the issues that matter right now:

1. Emory University


1-Marche Simpson

Marche Simpson | Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Emory University

A landmark private institution here in Atlanta, Georgia, Emory University does not shy away from the implications of being in such a richly diverse city. Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Marche Simpson, has worked with Civic Dinners to bring conversations from our Inclusive and Equity Series to Emory’s campus. Leaning into these potentially difficult discussions, Simpson and her team are revolutionizing campus culture.





2. University of Chicago


2- Purvi Patel

Purvi Patel |  Director of Civic and Campus Engagement

The Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago aims “to inspire and cultivate the next generation of political and public service leaders.” What better way to do this than by facilitating conversations around climate change, racial injustice, and voting rights? Purvi Patel, Director of Civic and Campus Engagement, partnered with Civic Dinners to engage the next generation of political leaders in meaningful, action-oriented conversation. Read more about this partnership here.






3.University of Georgia


3- Star Scott-square

Star Scott | Program Coordinator, Green Labs, University of Georgia

The University of Georgia is an institution committed not only to talking about, but also to doing the work of sustainability. As part of its 2020 Strategic Plan, UGA instated a Green Lab program to conserve water, energy, and chemicals in its research spaces. Spearheaded by Star Scott, the Green Lab program helps the university and greater Georgia community conserve energy, save money, and improve safety. Cheers to schools looking within to make a huge difference!





4. Vanderbilt University


4- Emiko Baldwin-square

Emiko Baldwin | Senior Manager, Leadership Development Programs, Vanderbilt University

A private research school in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University is committed to fully equipping its students, faculty and staff to change the world. Emiko Baldwin, Leadership Development Programs Senior Manager at Vandy’s Owen School of Management, brings a truly global perspective to this work. Embracing the challenges and opportunities of a globalized world, Baldwin is empowering future business leaders to operate with a truly inclusive mindset.





5. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)


5- Tia Jackson-Truitt-square

Tia Jackson-Truitt | Director, Diversity and Inclusion Training and Education, Georgia Institute of Technology

Another Atlanta staple, the Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the top-ranked research universities in the world. Beyond this, Georgia Tech has proven its commitment to diversity and inclusion by instating Tia Jackson-Truitt as its first Director of D&I Training and Education. In this inaugural role, Jackson-Truitt serves as a subject matter expert and oversees the spread of this knowledge to the university community.





6. Florida State University


6- Jacques E. Toussaint

Jacques E. Toussaint | Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Florida State University

Located in Tallahassee, Florida State University is a public research institution committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work and learning environment. It is one of fifteen universities around the country to earn the status of Diversity Champion, and it has won INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award for seven consecutive years. Jacques E. Toussaint, the university’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, has led the charge in bringing FSU’s awarded diversity and inclusion plan to fruition.



7. University of South Florida


7- Dr. Hordge-Freeman

Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman | Provost, Diversity and Inclusion, University of South Florida

The University of South Florida is a public research institution with three campuses throughout the state. In response to countless acts of racism in recent years, the university organized its Anti-Racism Initiative to educate the community and take active steps toward racial equity. A champion of this work on USF’s campus, Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman serves as Senior Advisor to the President. Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, and Interim Vice President for Institutional Equity. Her work focuses on institutional racism and the need for change at both a national and local level.



8. Oglethorpe University


8- Laura Chandler

Laura Renée Chandler | Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Oglethorpe University

A small, private liberal arts college in Brookhaven, Georgia, Oglethorpe University is committed to challenging perceptions, evoking questions, transforming perspectives, and creating connections. The school’s first Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Laura Renée Chandler, works to improve campus culture through DEI programming, training, and other initiatives. Chandler embraces the power of conversation to reckon with these issues, and continues to use discussion to engage the Oglethorpe community.




9. University of West Georgia - Richards College of Business


9 - Monica smith

Monica Smith | Assistant Dean, Richards College of Business, University of West Georgia

The Richards College of Business at the University of West Georgia aims to engage and empower its students to make an impact in the business world. Monica Smith, Assistant Dean of the Business School, has played a pivotal role in uplifting women in the program. Every year, the school hosts the Women Empowering Women summit as an opportunity for women to network with, learn from, and be inspired by other women. With gender equity remaining one of the crucial issues of our time, we love to see universities doing what they can to empower women!



10. Southern Utah University


10- Eric Kirby

Eric Kirby | Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs, Southern Utah University

With six colleges, Southern Utah University aims to prepare its students for meaningful lives in and out of their careers. Eric Kirby, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, works to implement organizational change and initiatives for the betterment and empowerment of all SUU students. For example, when the Native American Student Association activated for greater on-campus representation, the school took the step to raise five tribal flags. We have seen the power of representation in various arenas, and we commend Southern Utah for walking the talk.




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