Tag: Diversity and Inclusion

Mayes joins Lawrence as vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion

Dr. Eric Mayes (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Dr. Eric Mayes, a higher education leader who has championed diversity and education reform initiatives for nearly two decades, will join Lawrence University as its new vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

He will lead the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and work collaboratively across campus with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community.

“It’s an opportunity to be a part of important change happening at a critical time in both Lawrence’s history and our country’s history,” said Mayes, who currently serves as the founding executive director of the Center for Educational Equity and associate professor within the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas. “I felt it was the right time in my career to take on this role and lead diversity, equity, and inclusion work at the institutional level.”

Mayes emerged as the No. 1 choice from a strong field of candidates. 

“Dr. Mayes has a level of passion and commitment to DEI work that will be game-changing for Lawrence,” President Laurie A. Carter said in making the announcement. “He has the experience that we need in this critical moment of Lawrence working toward becoming an antiracist institution. Dr. Mayes’ story of grit, determination, and resilience will allow him to serve as an excellent role model for our students while collaborating with faculty and staff to create an environment of belonging for all members of the Lawrence community.”

Mayes, who will begin his new duties in early November, will build on diversity work that has been done at Lawrence in recent years. The scope of the position has been expanded to focus on equity as well as issues of diversity and inclusion.

Mayes joined the Center for Educational Equity at Arkansas three years ago as its founding executive director. The master’s degree program is committed to developing equity-minded educators.

He also worked collaboratively with colleagues across the Arkansas campus on inclusive excellence and helped launch the Summer Equity Institute, an annual three-day residential event that brings together university, local, regional, and national voices on antiracism, educational equity, culturally responsive pedagogy, and policy-related issues.

“Dr. Mayes has proven to be an invaluable leader,” said Danielle L. Williams, associate vice chancellor and executive director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, Compliance, and Title IX at the University of Arkansas. “He is a strategic thinker who is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion and actively works to create a culture where all can thrive. I am confident that Dr. Mayes has the academic prowess and personality to move your institution forward. I am excited to see his future successes at Lawrence University.”

Mayes was previously on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, serving as an assistant professor of educational leadership and chair of the school’s Diversity and Civility Committee. He trained a global cohort of education professionals to be more effective leaders and to use culture, diversity, and equity as seminal elements of effective leadership and pedagogical change.

Prior to that, he worked for three years in the nation’s capital as a national deputy director at the Children’s Defense Fund, leading initiatives on national education reform, service learning, social justice, and leadership development.

He holds an Ed.M. in education policy and management from Harvard University, a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Howard University, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, Association of Black Psychologists, American Educational Research Association, and the American Society for Public Administration.

Mayes said the leadership work he’s done at the University of Arkansas and Johns Hopkins has prepared him to work effectively across departments at Lawrence, build and maintain navigable support systems for students, and facilitate productive conversations on and off campus.

“Lawrence is getting a collaborator, someone who values diversity, equity, and inclusion at an extremely high level, someone who is committed to the truest notion of a liberal arts education,” Mayes said. “To realize the unique value of a liberal arts education, you need to have an environment where people feel welcome, where people feel supported, where people can bring their authentic self to the classroom, to campus, and their presence and contributions are welcomed, valued, and celebrated.”

Mayes grew up in southwest Michigan, surrounded by significant poverty. He said the support he received throughout his youth has informed his education and his professional life.

“The odds were not in my favor, but I fought against them and refused to be a victim of them,” Mayes said.

He enrolled at Xavier University in Louisiana before transferring to the University of Michigan. He would make the Michigan football team as a walk-on linebacker and grow into one of its top defensive players. As a senior, he was named a co-captain, and that team went on to win the 1997 National Championship. The leadership he showed after suffering a season-ending knee injury is the stuff of legend at Michigan.

Mayes said he had mentors to lean on, to provide guidance and support every step of the way. He carries those lessons with him today.

“My career path has largely been driven by working to give back and replicate the kinds of support that I received that proved to be life-changing,” he said.

Mayes, who will also be a tenured professor in the Department of Education at Lawrence, said he’s excited to make connections in the Fox Cities, to facilitate conversations so both Lawrence and the broader community can thrive together.

“Lawrence doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” he said. “That community connection and engagement is important.”

Mayes said every conversation he’s had in his visits to Lawrence have given him hope that Lawrence will continue to move forward in its diversity, equity, and inclusion work. He’s excited to be a leader in those efforts.

“I thought the faculty, staff, and students I met were really genuine,” Mayes said. “I’m looking forward to working alongside them and bringing my experiences, expertise, and network to campus and help move the needle forward in achieving the institutional goals around antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

D&I Award winners engage with issues, initiatives that make LU more equitable

Lawrence University

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The 2021 recipients of Lawrence University’s Diversity & Inclusion Champion Awards were celebrated May 25 in a virtual event that highlighted their contributions to the campus.

Recipients include Shaun Brown ’21, Student Award; LUDWiG (Lawrence University Disability Working Group), chaired by Alex Chand ’22, Student Organization Award; Jaime Gonzalez ’16, Staff Award; Horacio Contreras, assistant professor of music, Faculty Award; and the Kaukauna Area School District First of Many program, Community Partner Award.

“These impressive individuals have used their many talents, resources, influence, and privilege to help make Lawrence University more inclusive,” Kimberly Barrett, vice president for diversity and inclusion and associate dean of the faculty, said in announcing this year’s recipients. “While excelling in their individual roles of faculty, student, staff or community leader, they have also helped us become a more diverse and equitable university that supports all associated with the institution reach their unique potential. Whether through service, activism or teaching, they have all helped to make Lawrence a better place in which to work and learn.”

Shaun Brown ’21

Shaun Brown ’21 (Photo by Danny Damiani)

A psychology and cultural anthropology double major, Brown has been involved in numerous initiatives, including working as an Admissions senior intern on the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Student Recruitment Team and serving as one of two student representatives on the recent Presidential Search Committee.

“As an admissions counselor, he has effectively modeled what an antiracist admissions process can look like through his culturally informed information sessions, compassionate interviewing, and careful reviewing of applications,” his nomination stated.

Brown also has shown leadership within Sankofa House and Black Student Union and has helped nurture cross-cultural connections via All is One, LU Native Americans (LUNA), Brother to Brother, and Alianza.

LUDWiG, chaired by Alex Chand ‘22

LUDWiG participants include: top row from left, Maria Jankowski, Alex Chand, Jojo Maier; bottom row from left, Malcolm Davis, Sterling Ambrosius, Zoe Nicole Adler

LUDWiG is a new student organization, launched in February through the leadership of Chand, that brings together students, faculty, and staff with a mission to foster inclusion and equity of disabled individuals at Lawrence. It does so through mentorship, education, and a commitment to equitable access.

The nomination for the group applauded Chand, a double major in physics and English, for her persistent efforts to bring the organization to fruition.

“Identifying as a person with a disability and as a person of color, these intersectional identities developed her insight and awareness,” the nomination stated. “Frustrated by challenges disabled students face at Lawrence, Alex worked to promote intergroup and cross-cultural understanding through her event programming and cross-organization collaborations.”

Among other efforts, LUDWiG members are working on a Know Your Rights brochure that will highlight disabled students’ rights and resources on campus and will be distributed to incoming first-year students.

Jaime Gonzalez ’16

Jaime Gonzalez ’16 (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Gonzalez serves as director of transfer and transitions in the Admissions office, a position he moved into in April 2020. Prior to that he served as a diversity, inclusion, and access specialist.

He has made significant contributions to diversity recruitment and transfer recruitment strategies since returning to Lawrence in 2019.

“Leading efforts to increase access to Lawrence for underrepresented prospective students, he maintained and strengthened relationships with community-based organizations and provided diversity, inclusion, and access training for our admissions staff to further support our goals of becoming an anti-racist office,” his nomination stated.

“In addition to his current role and his support of many other groups on campus, his day-to-day actions exemplify what being an anti-racist person means. He is forever learning and encouraging others to do the same. The changes he’s created at Lawrence have made us a more anti-racist institution and will leave a legacy for decades to come.”


Horacio Contreras

Horacio Contreras

A professor of cello, Contreras was applauded in the nomination for his long commitment to dismantling bias in music. He co-authored the Sphinx Catalog of Latin-American Cello Works, a free database containing information about works for cello by Latin American composers.

“He is making accessible long-unheard voices, increasing representation, dismantling stereotypes, and creating new ways into cello music’s history and future,” the nomination stated.

Contreras has created opportunities for underrepresented students to pursue high-level professional research, and he frequently helps students who face barriers locate funding for summer experiences, giving them opportunities that will help them pursue graduate work or professional careers.

“By acknowledging and dismantling bias, Professor Contreras demonstrates to his students that they can be both gifted musicians and anti-racists,” the nomination stated. “He achieves all of this in ways that foster greater diversity on campus and beyond through his research, teaching, professional service and mentoring students.”

Kaukauna’s First of Many Program

From Left: Corey Baumgartner, Molly Ruffing ’22, Matt Binsfeld

Molly Ruffing ’22, the Equal Access to Education Service Corps leader in the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE), led the charge to create this mentorship program in her hometown. It matches first-generation Lawrence students with potential first-generation students at Kaukauna High School.

Ruffing worked closely with Principal Corey Baumgartner, counselor Matt Binsfeld, and other officials at the high school to make the program a reality.

The Lawrence mentors meet weekly with their mentees to talk through a range of topics that range from financial aid to the application process to potential barriers.

“With six Lawrence mentors and five Kaukauna juniors, the program was successfully piloted in Winter Term 2021,” the nomination stated. “Due to positive feedback from students, plans are in the works to continue the program in the 2021-22 academic year.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu