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Emory names first diversity officer to strengthen ‘diversity, equity, inclusion’

Carol Henderson, Emory University, diversity Carol Henderson is to start Aug. 1 as Emory University top diversity officer and advisor to the school's president. Credit: emory.edu

By David Pendered

Emory University on Tuesday announced its selection to serve as the first vice provost for diversity and inclusion, chief diversity officer and advisor to the president. The position is to help Emory fulfill its ambitions to fulfill its four pillars of academic excellence.

Carol Henderson, Emory University, diversity

Carol Henderson is to start Aug. 1 as Emory University top diversity officer and advisor to the school’s president. Credit: emory.edu

Carol Henderson is to assume the office Aug. 1. Henderson currently serves as vice provost for diversity at the University of Delaware, where also serves as professor of English and Africana studies. Previously, Henderson served as the interim chair and chair of the university’s Department of Black American Studies from 2010 to 2014.

“I am so excited and extremely honored to join such a dynamic and engaged campus community,” Henderson said in a statement from Emory. “I look forward to building upon – and contributing to – Emory’s legacy of academic excellence, community engagement and outreach, and innovative scholarly inquiry that has inclusive excellence principles and values at the core of its practices.”

Henderson fills a post that comes with high expectations.

The job is nothing less than, “essential for Emory’s advancement toward eminence,” Emory’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, Dwight McBride, said in January when he announced the start of the search to fill the position.

McBride’s statement continued:

  • “To continue our work of One Emory, we must be a destination that welcomes and affirms the talent and excellence of students, faculty, and staff drawn from a broad variety of cultural backgrounds and intellectual perspectives.”

One Emory: Engaged for Impact is portrayed as part of Emory’s strategic framework to secure its position among the world’s leading academic institutions. The program’s four pillars, and a short description of each, observe:

Faculty Excellence

Claire Sterk Emory

The role of Emory University’s new top diversity officer is to serve as advisor to President Claire Sterk. File/Credit: emory.edu

  • Foster a culture of eminence that attracts and inspires scholars of the highest order

Academic Community of Choice

  • Cultivate a thriving campus and a compelling student experience

Innovation through Scholarship and Creative Expression

  • Harness imagination and discovery to address 21st-century challenges

Atlanta as a Gateway to the World

  • Unleash Emory and Atlanta’s shared future to mobilize change for the world

McBride commended Henderson and outlined her scope of work in a statement released across the university:

  • “Dr. Henderson has been a member of the faculty at the University of Delaware since 1995 and is professor of English and Africana studies with a focus on African American literature. Her books explore issues of race and gender in politics, film, and popular and visual culture. She is a sought-after speaker and communicator, conducting workshops nationally on inclusive leadership.
  • “As Emory’s first chief diversity officer, Dr. Henderson will help lead the realization of the university’s strategy for inclusive excellence by working with leadership, faculty, staff, and students as we define community goals, establish guiding principles, and create a plan that champions our culture of diversity and inclusion.”

Henderson holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles; a masters of arts from California State University of Dominguez Hills; and she received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside.

Emory retained the Chicago-based executive search firm Witt/Kieffer to lead the search, in conjunction with representatives of Emory’s faculty, staff, students and trustees, according to a statement.

Two of the three Witt/Kieffer consultants have experience in the education sector and are based in Bethesda, Md. The third consultant is based in Atlanta and experienced in the arenas of healthcare, major foundations and non-profits, according to the firm’s website.



David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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