Diversity Trailblazer: Alfreda Brown, Ph.D.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Kent State Today will be looking at the accomplishments of Kent State women who have advanced the cause of women, broken glass ceilings and left a lasting impact on women’s history.  

When she came to Kent State University in October 2009, Alfreda Brown Ph.D., made history by becoming the first person ever to lead a university division dedicated completely to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.  

Alfreda Brown, Ph.D., was Kent State's first vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

As vice president for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Brown served as a powerful voice for making sure no one in the university’s wide-reaching system was marginalized, discriminated against or left behind. 

The division was created by former President Lester A. Lefton as part of his excellence agenda and its mission to create a more cohesive, welcoming environment for all students, faculty and staff across all eight Kent State campuses. 

Over her tenure, Brown’s division established four centers to serve the needs of students, faculty and staff – the Women’s Center, the Student Multicultural Center, the LGBTQ+ Center and the Center for Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services – as well as multiple programs and initiatives aimed at making sure no one on campus is marginalized or left out.  

Alfreda Brown, Ph.D., Kent State's first vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at an event on campus.
Alfreda Brown, Ph.D., Kent State's first vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, with President Todd Diacon.

Brown came to Kent State after working 21 years at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, New York, her hometown, and 10 years prior to that working at Eastman Kodak, also in Rochester. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Roberts Wesleyan College, a master’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology and a doctorate degree from Nova Southeastern University. 

In 2020, the university named its Diversity Trailblazer Award after Brown to honor her years of groundbreaking service. 

 After serving for nearly 11 years, Brown retired amid the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020. At her retirement, colleagues hailed her for having a heart for caring and making sure that all populations feel included. She retired to North Carolina with the goals of writing additional books (her first, “Word Up,” was published in 2013) and continuing to serve others. 


POSTED: Wednesday, March 29, 2023 02:33 PM
Updated: Friday, March 31, 2023 09:22 AM
Lisa Abraham