After two years at the helm, St. Joe’s senior associate vice provost for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is leaving the university for another opportunity.
Nicole Stokes, Ph.D., will become Dean/Division Head of the School of Social Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, Abington Campus, according to an April 4 announcement from Cheryl McConnell, Ph.D. , Provost and Vice President for Business Studies.
Stokes declined to be interviewed for this story. As the university searches for a new associate provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Janée Burkhalter, Ph.D., associate dean of the Erivan K. Haub School of Business and professor of marketing, and Kim Allen-Stuck, Ph.D., assistant vice president of student success and educational support, will serve as interim co-assistants to the provost, according to a follow-up announcement from McConnell on April 29.
Burkhalter and Allen-Stuck will also help search, identify and select a new associate provost over the summer, the announcement said.
“The first one [goal] conducts successful research,” Allen-Stuck said. “We hope to launch this in June and hopefully have a new deputy provost as soon as possible. The second [goal] is, as the merger progresses, to ensure that DEI domains are integrated into merger planning and merger implementation.
McConnell said in the email that if the search continues over the next academic year, Burkhalter and Allen-Stuck will continue to serve as interim directors.
St. Joe’s opened its Center for Diversity and Inclusion in 2016. That same year, Monica Nixon, Ed.D., was named St. Joe’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Nixon left college in 2018 and his position sat vacant for two years until Stokes was hired.
Stokes’ last day at St. Joe’s is May 25. On June 1, St. Joe’s will officially merge with USciences, where DEI’s efforts are directed by the DEI Council, made up of trustees, faculty and one student.
Dr. Paul Katz, former president of USciences, created the council in July 2020, according to David Forde Jr., Esq., vice president of community and government affairs. Current members include Forde; Massandje Dosso ’22, president of the Union of Black Students; Dr. Tyan Thomas, PharmD, associate professor of clinical pharmacy; Tricia Purcell, Director of Student Activities and Campus Recreation; and Ruth Roberts, Ph.D., Director of Human Resources.
“We focus on three areas, community, meaning our external community, academics in student life, and then the workforce,” Forde said. “We should also add that it is not just done by these five people. Each of these working groups, we have called for people to sit on these committees, on these sub-committees.
Forde said USciences formed its DEI council to build community and involve as many people as possible.
“It’s just important to have a place where people know they can go and be heard,” Forde said.
According to the National Center of Education Statistics, fall 2020 undergraduate enrollment at St. Joe’s was 6% Black or African American, 8% Hispanic/Latino, 3% Asian, 2 % Unknown Ethnicity, 3% Multiracial, and 76% White/Caucasian.
Fall 2020 undergraduate enrollment at USciences was 7% Black or African American, 4% Hispanic/Latino, 32% Asian, 8% Unknown Ethnicity, 5% Multiracial and 43% White/Caucasian.
Nixon, who is now vice president for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), an organization dedicated to student affairs professionals in higher education, stated that having a dedicated leadership role at DEI is necessary for higher education institutions to remain relevant to the advancing world.
“Having a diversity and inclusion officer position helps colleges and universities align functions across the institution and track progress more consistently,” Nixon said. “This person really has a connective function to align initiatives, but also to bring innovative ideas to colleagues to help an institution and stay abreast of current trends”
Currently, there is little diversity in leadership at St. Joe’s.
In her April 29 announcement, McConnell said Angela McDonald, Ph.D., dean of the School of Health Studies and Education, is leaving the university to assume the position of dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services. from Longwood University. in Virginia. McDonald’s has been in St. Joe’s since July 2019.
The announcement also stated that Joshua Power, Ed.D., Executive Director of Graduate and Extended Studies, will serve as Dean of Health Studies and Education for a one-year term.
With Power’s appointment, all deans of St. Joe’s will be white men, including Joseph DiAngelo, Jr., Ed.D. ’70, dean of the Erivan K. Haub School of Business, and Jay Carter, Ph.D., who has served as acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since June 2021. In a separate email from April 29 sent to St Joe’s faculty and staff, the university announced that Carter had been appointed for a four-year term, effective June 1.
Sinclair Smith, Sc.D., who will serve as dean of the new School of Health Professions, and Edward Foote, PharmD., who will serve as dean of the pharmacy program, are also white men.
Nixon said higher education in the United States as a whole is an organizational structure that was built on pre-existing inequitable structures, and progress happens when structures are challenged and analyzed.
“If we dismantled these structures and built more, then everyone would have a more equitable experience,” Nixon said. “And I think that’s really the call to bring justice and fairness to the system. I think the real work for higher education is to challenge some of the assumptions and underpinnings of our systems, services, offices and structures. And then think really creatively about building new ones.
Taylor Stokes ’22, outgoing student senate president at St. Joe’s University (USS), said St. Joe’s needs to do better to increase diversity
“[Students] won’t feel like their voices are heard or represented, and that will discourage them from wanting to perform to the best of their abilities, because they won’t see someone who looks like them in a role of authority,” Stokes said. . .