Academy for Diversity and Inclusion to improve climate for faculty, staff

Search underway for leader

Henry S. Webber

As part of ongoing efforts to improve the campus climate for faculty and staff, Washington University in St. Louis is launching the Academy for Diversity and Inclusion. Like the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, which serves students, the academy will support employees through programming, training, events and other resources.

“The academy will function as the university’s primary forum for improving climate and culture, with the goal of making Washington University more equitable, welcoming and inclusive,” said Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration. “We’ve made much progress in this area, but we have more work to do. While a number of diversity and inclusion resources exist on each campus, present efforts toward supporting an inclusive staff and faculty could benefit from a centralized collaborator and strategic partner.”

Webber has created an assistant vice chancellor position to lead the academy and has charged Adrienne Davis, vice provost and the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, with the nationwide search.

Davis said the position will serve as an advocate for staff around diversity issues, as well as support existing and new affinity groups, cultivate ambassadors for diversity and inclusion work across the campus, roll out programming for staff and faculty, develop and conduct diversity training programs and assess the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion efforts.

“The numbers are going up for students, staff and faculty, but we want to do more to change the day-to-day climate for staff and faculty,” Davis said. “We have seen the Center for Diversity and Inclusion drive climate and culture for students and believe that the academy can do the same for staff and faculty.”

The academy, as conceived and developed by Davis and Denise DeCou, director of diversity and inclusion for the Office of Human Resources, is a key recommendation of the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion’s report. 

Other recommendations include a universitywide research center focused specifically on race and ethnicity, eliminating barriers to accessing technology and increasing the number of students from underrepresented and marginalized groups and ensuring their academic success.

Davis said that faculty and staff are hungry for opportunities to learn from and support one another, especially after painful situations such as the Pulse nightclub shooting or the events in Ferguson.

“Our first impulse is to take care of the students, but we don’t always take care of ourselves,” Davis said. “The academy will foster that sense of community. This fills one of those gaps and promises to really improve culture and climate. And if we can make real progress there, we can make progress in other areas as well, from admissions to staff and faculty recruitment and retention.”

For more information about the assistant vice chancellor position, interested candidates can contact Davis at or Mark S. Prosperi, the university’s executive director of talent management, at The application deadline has been extended to March 30.

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