July 6, 2020 - Tanisha Stevens named vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion

Dear University Community,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Tanisha Stevens as UMSL’s first vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion. Inclusive Excellence is one of the five compacts of our strategic plan, and this newly elevated position will help ensure we’re living up to that ideal by building a sustainable infrastructure to support inclusive excellence across our university.

Dr. Stevens’ appointment coincides with an increase in resources allocated to the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, including the first senior manager of strategic diversity initiatives, Marlo Hode, and the addition of the Title IX Office including Chief Equity Officer Dana Beteet Daniels and Deputy Coordinator Jessica Swederske. Additional resources will be added to support Dr. Stevens and the office in advancing our important inclusive excellence programming.

Dr. Stevens will continue to be a key member of the leadership cabinet that focuses on university-wide decisions. She and her team will be responsible for enhancing current ODEI programming, leading professional training opportunities and having a greater presence in recruiting and retention. They plan to make annual reports to campus on how well we are fostering a diverse and inclusive environment where all people have an opportunity to learn and thrive.

Dr. Stevens has a strong track record of effecting positive change and developing strategic initiatives that have benefited students – no matter their backgrounds –during her 17 years at UMSL. She began her career assisting the dean of the Graduate School with academic dishonesty cases, rising to coordinator of student rights and responsibilities two years later and eventually becoming director of the Office of Academic Integrity. Since November, she’s simultaneously served as interim director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, relocating the Title IX and Equity Office under its umbrella and facilitating the creation of the Diversity Alliance, a network of faculty and staff who champion diversity and inclusion that will debut this fall. Last month, she coordinated the Virtual Gathering for Racial Unity, which drew an audience of nearly 200 members of the campus community online.

I am grateful to Sharon Johnson, dean of the School of Social Work, and Edward Munn Sanchez, dean of the Pierre Laclede Honors College, for co-chairing the committee that unanimously recommended Stevens’ appointment. Academic Advisor Harry Harris, PhD student Luimil Negrón, Assistant Provost for Access and Academic Support Natissia Small, Deputy Chief of Police Marisa Smith, Teaching Professor Lynn Staley and Associate Professor Matt Taylor joined them in making that recommendation.

I am looking forward to working with Dr. Stevens in this critical role on issues that are fundamental to what we value as a university. I invite you to read much more about Dr. Stevens and her new role in UMSL Daily.


Kristin Sobolik
University of Missouri–St. Louis