CMU alumna named university’s next chief diversity officer

Shawna Patterson-Stephens brings passion and vision to the role

| Author: Heather Smith

MUG-patterson stephens profileCentral Michigan University President Bob Davies today announced the hiring of alumna Shawna Patterson-Stephens as the university's vice president and chief diversity officer. Patterson-Stephens, associate vice chancellor of student affairs and director of the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will begin her new role at CMU on June 1.

"The future of diversity, equity and inclusion at Central Michigan University is bright knowing we will have Dr. Patterson-Stephens at the helm," Davies said. "Her background, skills and vision are exactly what we need to advance our ambitious goals. I am thrilled to welcome her back to CMU."

Patterson-Stephens has served in her current role at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2019. In this role, she leads the development and implementation of programs to enhance students' understanding of social justice and cultural competence; collaborates across campus to plan and implement initiatives centered on creating a welcoming and inclusive environment to support student learning and growth; and works with campus and community partners on diversity and inclusion matters.

In addition, she provides administrative oversight for the Asian American Cultural Center; the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center; Diversity and Social Justice Education; International Education; La Casa Cultural Latina; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center; Native American House; and the Women's Resources Center.

Patterson-Stephens earned her bachelor's degree from CMU, a master's degree in student affairs administration from Michigan State and a doctorate in higher education from Florida State University. She began her higher ed career at Michigan State University as a residence hall director then complex director from 2007-2010. Since that time, she has held leadership roles at the University of Pennsylvania as well as serving as director of the Davis Intercultural Center at Williams College.

"I am beyond honored to be entrusted with this tremendous opportunity and responsibility; to strengthen and co-facilitate the strategic implementation of inclusive excellence throughout the very community that provided me with a foundational understanding of diversity, inclusion and social justice education," Patterson-Stephens said. "Central Michigan University has grown so much since my tenure as an undergraduate student, and I am profoundly grateful to be able to contribute towards the cultivation of an engaging, pluralistic learning environment."

As CMU's vice president/chief diversity officer, Patterson-Stephens will play a key role in advancing the university's goal to become a more inclusive institution. She will be responsible for developing and implementing a plan to further a diverse and welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

Davies selected Patterson-Stephens following a nationwide search. In making his decision, Davies received recommendations from a search committee comprising faculty, staff, students and community members, as well as input from multiple constituent groups and comments from open forums. The search committee was chaired by Interim Vice President/Chief Diversity Officer Stan Shingles and Senior Vice Provost Julia Johnson. Patterson-Stephens replaces A.T. Miller, who stepped down from his role in August 2020.

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