James E. Page Jr., a nationally recognized leader in institutional diversity, has been appointed as Vanderbilt University’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced today. Page comes to Vanderbilt from Johns Hopkins Medicine, where he served as vice president and chief diversity officer since 2014. He will join Vanderbilt Aug. 17.
“Success in our academic and research mission demands an equitable, diverse and inclusive culture,” Zeppos said. “James brings a wealth of experience advancing diversity and inclusion in both higher education settings and at Fortune 500 companies. I look forward to working with James, our senior management team and the entire Vanderbilt community as we continue the important work of building and sustaining a richly diverse and welcoming community.”
Page will report to Zeppos and will lead the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. He will collaborate and partner closely with the 10 other vice chancellors to advance and support equity, diversity and inclusion best practices.
“I am humbled to be invited to join the Vanderbilt community, an organization committed to being the leader in equity, diversity and inclusion. Smart organizations embed equity as their currency for trust, allowing all voices to not only be heard but also respected,” Page said. “They proactively leverage their various aspects of diversity as a strategic advantage to exceed expectations and push themselves to be better. They position inclusion as an operational value, necessary to remain relevant in the face of changing environments. Vanderbilt has demonstrated that it is committed to following this path.
“Because of the criticality of this work, there will surely be challenges along the way. I look forward to working with each member of the community to accomplish our goals,” Page continued. “My family and I are greatly excited to join Vanderbilt and the Nashville community. I consider this a great honor and a unique chance to make a difference at an amazing place.”
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente and Dr. André Churchwell, senior associate dean for diversity affairs in the School of Medicine and chief diversity officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, co-chaired the national search with a search committee comprising university leaders, faculty, staff, a student and an alumna.
“James will be a great partner for my team in the Provost’s Office, especially for Vice Provost Melissa Thomas-Hunt, who has a primary focus on inclusive excellence initiatives for faculty and students,” Wente said. “He has a proven track record of working collaboratively across units and embracing a global view of inclusion. I look forward to the progress he will help Vanderbilt achieve and to working with him to bring unity and synergy to all of the diversity and inclusion initiatives across Vanderbilt’s campus.”
Page will also be a key ambassador for Vanderbilt in Nashville and beyond, focused on fostering important relationships with a variety of constituents.
“Supporting a diverse and inclusive culture is a shared responsibility that requires effort from every corner of the institution,” said Steve Ertel, vice chancellor for communications and a member of the search committee. “James brings unique insights, approaches and a contagious collaborative energy that will accelerate progress against our shared vision and help establish Vanderbilt as a diversity and inclusion leader locally, nationally and internationally.”
An engineer by training, Page brings an analytic, quantifiable approach to diversity and inclusion, designing programs that foster employee engagement, boost productivity and yield tangible returns on investment while furthering the goals of equity and mutual understanding. His 20-year career includes roles in human resources, government relations, technology, community engagement and health care. He has held senior positions at Dell, Inc. and DAVITA as well as Penn Medicine, Lancaster General Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
During his tenure at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the organization was named to Forbes list of America’s best employers for diversity and saw significant progress, including an increase in the number of women in senior leadership positions from 44 to 55 percent, the launch of the Center for Transgender Health, and a marked statistical improvement of employee engagement and positive diversity perspectives.
Page was with Dell, Inc. for more than 10 years, where he led the company’s global diversity, global ethics, compliance and privacy organizations. This work included leading the development and strategic operations of a global multinational program and the creation and implementation of strategies to address the changing business landscape for Dell’s operations in the United States and in 116 other countries in the wake of the Enron ethics scandals and key Supreme Court decisions.
He served for eight years on the Corporate Advisory Committee for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington, D.C., and on the Disparities in Health Care Subcommittee. He was appointed to Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell’s Workforce Investment Board Leadership Council.
As a result of his leadership, Johns Hopkins Medicine received the 2017 Innovations in Diversity and Inclusion award from Profiles in Diversity Journal, which also awarded Page its 2018 Diversity Leader Award. Page also was recognized with the 2017 Senior Executive award from the National Association of Healthcare Executives and the National Diversity Council’s Diversity Champion award.
He has been featured on NPR, as well as in Insights into Diversity, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, and Becker’s Hospital Review. He was also a contributor to the Prentice Hall casebook Public Speaking in the Age of Diversity.
Page holds a bachelor’s degree in computer technology from Purdue University and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a lifetime member of the National Black MBA Association and has served on the boards of the Baltimore Education Scholarship Trust, the United Way of Central Indiana, the Milagro House Women’s Shelter and the Texas NAACP.
Page will succeed Tina L. Smith, who has served as interim vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and interim chief diversity officer since July 2017. Under Smith’s leadership, the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion has sponsored numerous programs and events and launched a series of unconscious bias trainings.
“Tina has gone above and beyond in her role as interim vice chancellor,” Zeppos said. “Under her leadership, the office has laid a solid foundation for our university to continue taking significant steps toward making Vanderbilt a more diverse and inclusive academic community. I appreciate her leadership and dedication during this pivotal time.”