David Day
Office of the Provost

KU announces vice provost for diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging

Thu, 10/20/2022

Updated Oct. 24 and 25.

LAWRENCE — Following a rigorous national search, Nicole Hodges Persley has been named vice provost for diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging at the University of Kansas effective immediately. Hodges Persley has been serving as interim in that role since January.

Nicole Hodges PersleyKU is working to make diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging a foundational priority as part of its Jayhawks Rising strategic plan. Hodges Persley has helped expand awareness that a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment where everyone feels they belong is a shared campus responsibility. A primary focus for Hodges Persley in the interim role has been to encourage and support the efforts of unit leaders to establish, measure, monitor and communicate metrics, targets, benchmarks and progress toward success for improving DEIB at KU Lawrence-Edwards.

Hodges Persley is an associate professor of American studies and African & African American studies and holds a courtesy faculty appointment in the Department of Theatre & Dance. She also previously served as associate dean for diversity, equity & inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

“I’m pleased Nicole will continue leading our efforts to ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are integrated into everything we do at KU. As interim vice provost, Nicole has worked with campus leaders to create a framework that will guide and facilitate improvement in every academic and administrative unit on KU Lawrence and Edwards campuses,” said Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor. “As she takes on this role, Nicole will focus on outreach and engagement with students, faculty and staff, to strengthen relationships, and working closely with campus leaders to prioritize DEIB in the strategic plans, financial plans, and in hiring and employee support.”

“To be an exceptional learning community that lifts each member and advances society, DEIB can’t be the job of one person or one campus department,” Bichelmeyer said. “Nicole’s leadership approach is to be a collaborator, facilitator, partner and ally, and to create awareness and energy around our DEIB initiatives.”

Working with the DEIB team, Hodges Persley has developed a new action-oriented framework to help advance equity and social justice at the university. The “RISE: Realizing Intersectional Standards of Excellence” framework model seeks to raise the collective consciousness around systems of inequity that directly affect people who experience compounding oppressions based on overlapping social identities.

“I feel fortunate to continue this important work at KU,” Hodges Persley said. “I especially value my relationships with faculty, staff and students across campus and the opportunity to work with the talented and dedicated team within the DEIB office.”

Hodges Persley first joined the KU faculty in 2009 and has received awards and honors in recognition of her teaching, mentoring and campus contributions. She received the Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity’s Pride Award in 2017, and both the Office of Diversity & Equity’s Diversity Leadership Award and the Center for Educational Opportunity Program’s McNair Scholars Mentoring Award in 2016. In 2015 she received the university’s Byron T. Shutz Teaching Award. Prior to arriving at KU, she was honored with the Mellon Foundation’s Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring Award.

Hodges Persley was selected from four finalists after an extensive national search, which included search committee interviews, meetings with faculty, staff, students, university governance representatives and unit leaders, as well as public presentations. Derek Kwan, executive director of the Lied Center of Kansas, and Jide Wintoki, associate dean of graduate programs and Capitol Federal Professor in the School of Business, co-chaired the search.

“Throughout the recruitment process, Nicole demonstrated an excellent understanding of the role and scope of the position," Wintoki said. "Her prior work, and her ability to articulate how her scholarship is connected to DEIB, signals a very real commitment to this work.”
Kwan said, “Nicole’s research and theatrical directing history demonstrate a longstanding commitment to DEIB. Her institutional knowledge, based upon well over a decade of experience at KU, will undoubtedly serve her well in this role.”

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