October 5, 2017

Thomas, Johnson named to Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Team

Interim Provost Jay Akridge has announced that two new members have been added to the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Team to help move Purdue's diversity and inclusion initiatives forward. 

Renee Thomas, director of the Black Cultural Center, will serve as 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. Johnson 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.

Thomas and Johnson 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.

"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," Akridge says. "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."

Thomas 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. Thomas also leads the annual Cultural Arts Series, featuring prominent scholars who have contributed extensively to human rights, business and education.

Johnson 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. 

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