LAWRENCE — Jennifer Hamer, a University of Kansas professor of American Studies who has also held a number of administrative roles, has been selected to be the new vice provost for Diversity and Equity at KU. She is currently serving as the acting vice provost for the office.
“Dr. Hamer is someone willing to do the hard work of challenging those in power to think differently, more broadly, and of convincing more members of our community to embrace efforts that improve inclusion and KU’s climate,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Neeli Bendapudi. “She has shown great leadership in her many roles within the KU community — as a faculty member, a department chair, an associate dean in the College, and more recently as our acting vice provost for Diversity and Equity. I am thrilled she’s agreed to continue on in this role.”
The vice provost for Diversity and Equity provides both the strategic and day-to-day institutional leadership on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Hamer will monitor and evaluate progress toward goals and work closely with standing and ad hoc committees that address diversity, equity and inclusion at KU. She also will facilitate diversity and inclusion-related activities and build partnerships with students, administrators and units across campus. The vice provost supervises leadership of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, and the Multicultural Scholars Program. The role also provides crisis management leadership and support related to diversity, equity and inclusion matters on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.
“I am excited about the opportunities ahead, not simply for myself, but more for the university community,” Hamer said. “We have a chance to tackle some very important work that can positively impact everyone on the KU campus. We know that there can be vast differences in the Jayhawk experience depending on one’s background, and we also know there are actions we can take to make that experience more equitable and meaningful for all.”
Hamer has been on the KU faculty since 2012. She has appointments in both the Department of American Studies and in the Department of African and African-American Studies. She became chair of American Studies in 2014 and in 2016 was named the associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
She has undertaken or overseen a number of initiatives during her time at KU. As department chair, she managed planning and coordination of annual series of collaborative public programming — including symposia, conferences and lectures — to supplement undergraduate and graduate classroom learning. She oversaw development and implementation of a minor in social justice in the United States and a certificate of race and ethnicity in the United States. She also oversaw implementation of a minor and a graduate certificate in American studies. As associate dean in the College she initiated programs to enhance diversity and equity learning and public engagement. She was also involved in recruitment and retention efforts to improve racial and ethnic diversity of students, faculty and staff in the College.
From 2004 to 2011, Hamer was an associate professor in the Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also held courtesy appointments in the departments of sociology and women and gender studies, and from 2009-2010 she was associate dean of the Graduate College at Illinois. Hamer’s experience also includes faculty appointments at Wayne State University in Detroit, and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
She is the founder and editor of the journal Women, Gender and Families of Color. Hamer has several other peer-reviewed scholarly publications to her credit. Her works also include the 2011 book “Abandoned in the Heartland: Work, Family, and Living in East St. Louis.” She has served on a number of editorial boards, including the Black Diaspora Review, the Journal of African American Studies, and Wayne State University Press.
Her extensive service at KU includes efforts at the department, college and university levels. She has been a member of the Center for Undergraduate Research Advisory Board, the Provost Faculty Advisory Group and the College’s Savings Committee. She was chair of KU’s ad hoc Foundation Professor Recruitment Committee and has been president of the Black Faculty and Staff Council.
Hamer earned a doctorate in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s in sociology from Texas A&M University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Bendapudi expressed appreciation for Hamer’s contributions over the past few months as well as the work of the search committee.
“I’ve been very impressed with Dr. Hamer’s interactions with the campus community as well as her skill at picking up significant efforts already in process,” Bendapudi said. “I also want to thank the members of the search committee and its chair, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Stuart Day, for their thoughtful involvement in this process.”