To:                   Executive Vice Presidents, Chancellors, Vice Presidents, Vice Chancellors, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors and Heads of Schools, Divisions, Departments and Offices

From:               Jay Akridge, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Diversity

Date:               October 3, 2017

Subject:           New Members on Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Team


I am pleased to announce that two members have been added to the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership team to move our diversity and inclusion initiatives forward.

Renee Thomas, director of the Black Cultural Center, has been named Provost Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion working on a project aimed at enhancing diversity and inclusion on Purdue’s staff. In this role, she will serve as a catalyst to leverage best practices and build upon existing programs/efforts while championing new initiatives to promote a sustained focus on achieving inclusive excellence with staff.

Carolyn Johnson, director of the Diversity Resource Office, will join the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Team as Special Advisor to the Provost on major institutional issues regarding diversity and inclusion and university climate. Carolyn will work closely with the provost to support the multicultural and minority program directors, and identify opportunities for institutional improvement. She also will serve as liaison to the University Senate Equity and Diversity Committee.

Both Renee and Carolyn have strong track records in managing change and each has demonstrated success as a collaborator and relationship-builder with a broad range of diverse individuals.

Renee has more than 20 years of experience in higher education administration, with expertise in co-curricular programming, student services, community engagement and philanthropy. She was instrumental in providing the vision for the new Black Cultural Center facility, which opened in 1999. She is the driving force behind the annual Cultural Arts Series featuring prominent scholars who have contributed extensively to human rights, business and education. Under Renee’s leadership, the BCC has become nationally recognized as one of the best collegiate cultural centers for enhancing intellectual, cultural and social development.

Carolyn has helped academic institutions throughout the United States and in Europe, Asia and Africa address critical issues of diversity and inclusion. She has served as a trustee of three institutions of higher learning; has had on-the-ground field experience working with educators in underserved, refugee and minority communities, both nationally and internationally, and has lent her expertise to academic and business diversity assessment. Carolyn brings these valuable perspectives to her work at Purdue, where she cultivates a university environment of respect and inclusion through the development of awareness training for faculty, staff and students, as well as campus climate and assessment programs.

Both assignments include a 20 percent time commitment, and Renee and Carolyn will retain their current responsibilities in the Black Cultural Center and the Diversity Resource Office, respectively. They will join Professor Joan Fulton in her role as Provost Fellow in providing overall leadership and coordination for diversity and inclusion efforts during this time of transition.

I deeply appreciate Renee and Carolyn’s stepping into these roles, as well as Joan’s ongoing leadership, and look forward to working with them as we continue to move our diversity and inclusion efforts forward.