I serve as the Associate Vice President Office of University Engagement & Outreach, a newly created department in the Office of Provost. The office serves as the lead for Town & Gown relationships; mission-based pipeline efforts, including the university’s 3 federally funded Upward Bound TRIO programs, the LeBron James Family Foundation, Akron Public Schools partnerships, and the First Star Foster Youth program. This office focuses on increasing community engagement and development initiatives.
I also provide leadership, coordination, and supervision for division-level projects and initiatives for the Office of the Provost and provide community leadership for the university with specific leadership for University Outreach and Engagement efforts. I assist the Senior Vice President and Provost in the leadership and administration of all community and pipeline engagements within the Division of Academic Affairs.
Prior to this role, I served as Associate Vice president for the division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). One of my proudest accomplishments is the development, planning, and implementation of the DEI Education & Training Lab which has been nationally recognized. Other responsibilities included: implementation for broad-based inclusion strategies; coordination for the university’s climate study and Great Place initiative; and, the Division‘s Engagement Centers.
I've been active at the state, regional and national levels in diversity work, policy analysis, and access and graduation advocacy for first-generation, limited-income students. My research and teaching include the public role of higher education; access and educational opportunity; critical social research; and equity & capabilities. I'm a recent graduate from Leadership Akron’s Signature Class and serve on the East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation and the American Red Cross Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley boards.
Favorite place on the Kent campus:
I love all of Kent State's green spaces and trees! It is beautiful throughout the entire year but especially during the spring and fall.
Best advice for students:
Cast a wide net! There is so much Kent State offers and the world beyond Kent State. Explore, connect with people and experiences different than your own, and build as many relationships as possible through kindness, dignity, and a shared sense of humanity.
I'm proud to be married to the love of my life Mike, a middle school principal, and the mother of two “furry” children, Boo and Zelda.
- Sonya Williams, Executive Director
- Sherylynn Chapman-Thomas, Associate Director
- Danielle Green-Welch, Academy Director, First Star Kent State
- Jennifer Bishop, Special Assistant