LAWRENCE – A faculty member and administrator who has been at the forefront of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at KU and in her department has been named the new associate dean for diversity, equity & inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Nicole Hodges Persley, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre, will begin her appointment as associate dean for DEI starting Jan. 1.
“Nicole will bring a combination of scholarly expertise and interpersonal awareness to the challenges of this role,” said Carl Lejuez, dean of the College. “She has an incredible portfolio of experience in enacting conversations and meaningful changes to enhance diversity and inclusion in theatre, as well as across campus.”
Hodges Persley fills the position previously held by Jennifer Hamer, now vice provost of diversity & equity. She will work closely with the Office of Diversity & Equity, focused on continuing the College’s role as a leader in campuswide efforts to build a diverse, inclusive and equitable campus.
“I am proud of the work that I have done on campus, including teaching and directing works by playwrights of color and diversifying our graduate and undergraduate cohorts. Together, in the Department of Theatre, we changed the dialogue to foster a safe space culture that is working to reflect the world that we live in,” Hodges Persley said. “This work requires the whole KU community to be aware of social inequality and to take action towards change. I am eager to continue this work on a broader level both in the College and collaborating with partners across campus.”
Hodges Persley is an award-winning teacher, mentor and community leader whose scholarship and creative work offer strategies to address racial and social injustice. She is a significant contributor to diverse cultural programming in the greater Kansas City community including her role as associate artistic director of the KC MeltingPot Theatre and presentations of her work at the Kansas City Public Library, the American Jazz Museum, Black Archives of Mid-America Kansas City and the National Archives.
She has received numerous fellowships and awards, including the KU Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity Pride Award in 2017, the McNair Scholars Mentoring Award in 2016, KU's Byron T. Shutz Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015 and the Mellon Foundation's Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring Award in 2008. She is one of the founding program directors for the Hiphop Archive & Research Institute at Harvard University at the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Studies.
Her forthcoming book, “Sampling and Remixing Blackness in Hip Hop Theater and Performance” (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 2018), is the first book in the field to explore cross-racial performance in American and British theater influenced by hip-hop. She is the author of several articles and book chapters on hip-hop and African-American theater and has been a featured contributor in American Theatre magazine.
Hodges Persley is a critically acclaimed theater director with over 15 theater productions including her forthcoming production of Dominique Morrisseau’s “Sunset Baby,” which opens in December in Kansas City. She has been a co-investigator on several award-winning grants, including NEA and NEH awards for her creative contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion through performance with KU’s AUMI InterArts project and Kansas African Studies Center. She will be inducted into the prestigious National Theater Conference for outstanding contributions to the American Theatre in December 2017.
The College is the heart of KU, educating the most students, producing the most research and collaborating with nearly every entity at KU. The College is home to more than 50 departments, programs and centers, as well as the School of the Arts, School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures, and School of Public Affairs & Administration.