Wente announces new council to advance university’s efforts around diversity and inclusion; annual diversity reports released

Susan R. Wente, interim chancellor and provost (Vanderbilt University)
Susan R. Wente, interim chancellor and provost (Vanderbilt University)

Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente has announced the details of a new council to advocate for diversity and inclusion across all areas of the university. The council’s work will be informed and guided by the 2018-19 Chancellor’s Diversity Report, released today.

The Interim Chancellor’s Diversity Council will be co-chaired by Dr. André L. Churchwell, interim vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, and William H. Robinson, interim vice provost for strategic initiatives. The council will include faculty, staff, students and postdoctoral fellows from throughout the university.

“As a university, we can only continue our momentum if we embrace and prioritize our inclusivity efforts across diverse perspectives and backgrounds,” Wente said. “The council will serve a critical role as an advisory board to help explore new ideas and to reflect on and assess our efforts along the way. I am excited to have this talented group of individuals working together to give input on the university’s path forward.”

Wente first announced the formation of the council during her Fall Faculty Assembly remarks on Aug. 22. The council is charged with advocating for equity, diversity and inclusion at Vanderbilt and serving as a guide to the interim chancellor to build on existing strengths and identify areas of growth. The council is also charged with making periodic strategic recommendations to the interim chancellor on ways in which the university can further inclusive excellence among faculty, staff, students and postdoctoral fellows while promoting a welcoming and respectful environment.

Dr. André Churchwell (Vanderbilt University)

“Interim Chancellor Wente has made it clear that diversity, equity and inclusion are priorities for her as a leader,” said Churchwell, who also serves as chief diversity officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and senior associate dean for diversity affairs at the School of Medicine. “The council she has appointed represents individuals and experiences from across our university. We will work together to create recommendations that will ensure we are living out our commitment to create a culture that is respectful and welcoming to all.”

Members of the inaugural Interim Chancellor’s Diversity Council will serve one-year terms and include:

Committee Co-Chairs 

  • André L. Churchwell, interim vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion
  • William H. Robinson, interim vice provost for strategic initiatives


  • Xiu Cravens, associate professor of the practice of educational policy, associate dean for international affairs, Peabody College
  • Stephanie Devane-Johnson, associate professor of nursing, School of Nursing
  • Forrest E. Harris Sr., professor of the practice of ministry, director of the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on the African American Church, Divinity School
  • William Luis, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Spanish, College of Arts and Science, and chair of the Faculty Senate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
  • Terry Maroney, professor of law and professor of medicine, health and society, Law School
  • Kimberly Pace, professor for the practice of communication, Owen Graduate School of Management
  • Jose Sibaja, associate professor of trumpet, Blair School

Undergraduate Students

  • Frances Burton, president, Vanderbilt Student Government
  • Olivia Dominguez, president, Multicultural Leadership Council
  • Gabrielle Dyson, president, Vanderbilt National Pan-Hellenic Council
  • Rachel Miles, president, Vanderbilt Interfaith Council

Graduate and Professional Students

  • Kelsea Best, president, Vanderbilt Graduate Student Council
  • Tamee E. Livermont, Master of Public Health candidate, School of Medicine
  • Travis Williams, president of the Organization of Black Graduate and Professional Students


  • Jalen Blue, communications relationship manager, Division of Communications
  • Marsha Carter, administrative support professional, Division of Administration
  • Dawnyell Fletcher, assistant director for academic support, Athletics
  • Denise Johnson, chair, USAC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Ad-Hoc Committee
  • Yasmine Mukahal, talent acquisition team lead, Human Resources
  • Joanne Wang, director of professional and master’s programs, School of Engineering

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Carlyn Mueller, postdoctoral fellow, Peabody College
  • Cole Zmurchok, senior co-chair, Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association
William H. Robinson (Vanderbilt University)

The formation of the council also coincides with the releases of the annual Chancellor’s Diversity Report and the annual Academic Affairs Highlights report from the Office of the Provost. The reports document current initiatives in schools, divisions and departments throughout Vanderbilt. Highlights include the launch of the Office of the Provost’s Women of Vanderbilt initiative, the new Vanderbilt Trailblazers project, accessibility updates across campus through FutureVU and moving the university’s identity centers under the Office for Inclusive Excellence to further their reach in the Vanderbilt community.

“Vanderbilt continues to move ahead in its commitment to excellence through diversity and inclusion, and we are constantly evaluating what we have already done to determine what we can do next,” Robinson said. “I look forward to the ideas and knowledge that will emerge from the members of the council as we pursue this critical work.”

For more information on the council and the 2018-19 Chancellor’s Diversity Report, visit For the Office of the Provost Academic Affairs report, visit

Note: The 2018-19 Chancellor’s Diversity Report requires a VUnetID to view.