Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Laura Renée Chandler, PhD
Dear Oglethorpe Community,
It is my great pleasure to introduce Laura Renée Chandler, PhD, who has accepted our offer to become Oglethorpe’s inaugural Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She will join Oglethorpe’s senior administrative leadership team on March 5th.
In this role, Dr. Chandler will lead the strategic discussion advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion across the university and, working with key campus leaders, will build, guide, and assess policies and practices that encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion as a means of improving Oglethorpe’s cultural climate and identity. This work will extend into programming, training and development, curricular initiatives, and recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff.
Currently, Dr. Chandler is Director of the Center for Diversity and Community at the University of South Dakota, where she leads diversity and inclusiveness initiatives that serve the needs of the student body and support communities that have been historically underrepresented. In that role, she has been a member of the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusiveness and led efforts to build a diverse and welcoming learning environment and community for students, to foster greater cultural understanding between majority and minority populations, and to partner with faculty, staff, and departments across campus to enhance the student experience and support retention.
Previously, Dr. Chandler was Assistant Professor of History at South Dakota State University, where she designed and taught courses in U.S. history, the Civil Rights Movement, women’s history, African American Studies, and global citizenship and diversity. She also has developed and led initiatives focused on engaging students and community members in critical conversations on contemporary issues such as race relations, social justice, gender identity, and interpreting social protests in historical perspective.
Dr. Chandler is co-founder of the South Dakota Coalition for Justice and Equity, a community organization focused on creating more transparency and accountability in the South Dakota justice system. She also has recently served as director of the South Dakota African American History Museum, and as a member of the Brookings Human Rights Commission and the boards of LEAD South Dakota and South Dakota Voices for Peace.
Dr. Chandler received her MA and PhD in History from Rice University in Houston, TX, and a BA in Political Science from Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN.
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Chandler to the Oglethorpe community! In addition, I would like to extend a special thanks to members of the search committee and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, who worked closely with me to secure this appointment: Dr. Kendra King Momon, professor of politics and task force chair; Richard Bakare ’03, Oglethorpe trustee and alumnus; Brian Coldren, registrar and assistant provost; Dr. Janelle Pham, assistant professor of sociology; Taylor Roberts ’21, president of the Student Government Association, Tanya Thompson, chief information officer; Dr. Matthew Wild, lecturer of core studies; and Dr. Katharine Zakos, assistant professor of communication studies.