Katrina Caldwell Named Inaugural UM Vice Chancellor for Diversity

Katrina Myers Caldwell is the incoming Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi. (Submitted photo)
Katrina Myers Caldwell is the incoming Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi. (Submitted photo)

After a national search, the University of Mississippi has selected Katrina Caldwell as its first vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.

“I was both humbled and excited when I learned that I was being offered the job,” said Caldwell, who officially joins the administration Jan. 1, 2017, pending approval from the board of trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

“It’s an opportunity for me to return home and to contribute to the significant legacy of providing a quality education and transformative experience for students at the University of Mississippi.”

The assistant vice president for diversity and equity at Northern Illinois University, Caldwell has a track record of more than 20 years of successful strategic planning and implementation of diversity and engagement programs at Chicago-area higher education institutions.

“We are pleased that Dr. Caldwell is joining our leadership team,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Throughout our talks with her, she demonstrated a strong vision to move our university forward by leveraging our ongoing diversity and community engagement endeavors in a concerted, coordinated approach.

“We are grateful to Dr. Donald Cole, who has served as our chief diversity officer since 2003, and we look forward to Dr. Caldwell filling that role as well as facilitating the university’s expanding activities in community engaged scholarship.”

Caldwell will report directly to Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Morris Stocks. Her responsibilities will be to organize and integrate an infrastructure that facilitates and encourages community engagement, develop partnerships to effectively facilitate transformation, and identify and support target areas to maximize the university’s impact.

“Dr. Caldwell has extensive experience in leading similar divisions at other major universities,” Stocks said. “Through her expertise, commitment and ability to foster goodwill, I am confident that Dr. Caldwell will work to strengthen and promote our university community by encouraging diversity and personal growth and development, and to establish strong community partnerships that will enhance our learning, discovery and engagement mission.”

“As the first person in this position, I will have the opportunity to live out the strategic vision of Chancellor Vitter and Provost Stocks, to build on the important work that has already been done by stalwart leaders like Drs. Donald Cole and Brandi Hephner LaBanc (UM vice chancellor for student affairs) and to implement the ambitious goals in the UM Diversity Plan that were crafted by faculty, staff and students committed to this effort,” Caldwell said.

The Memphis, Tennessee, native is widely recognized in the field of diversity and inclusion in higher education. In 2011, she was recognized as a recipient of Diversity/MBA Magazine’s Top 100 under 50 Emerging and Executive Leaders Award as a result of her leadership and vision in the field.

Other honors and awards include the White House’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, the Illinois College Personnel Association Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Social Justice” and induction into Who’s Who in Black Chicago.

She holds doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College. She was also a Diversifying Faculty in Illinois fellow.

Caldwell served eight years at DePaul University, where she created cultural programs that celebrated the values of the university’s diverse communities. As director of the Center for Intercultural Programs, she also served on the President’s Diversity Council.

At the University of Illinois at Chicago, Caldwell served as assistant dean of minority affairs developing and successfully implementing a strategic plan to increase outreach to prospective students, improve retention/graduation of graduate fellowship students and expand professional development programs.


By Edwin Smith and the Ole Miss News Desk

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