KU chooses professor to be associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion

Jennifer Hamer

Kansas University has appointed professor Jennifer Hamer to be its first College of Liberal Arts and Sciences associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The newly created administrative position is envisioned to strengthen retention of under-represented students, clarify university strategies for recruiting under-represented faculty and staff, and work within the college to address “issues of campus environment,” according to KU’s announcement.

Hamer is department chair and a professor of American studies, as well as a professor of African and African-American studies. She begins her appointment July 1.

Jennifer Hamer

“The public university is a cornerstone of a democratic society, and the work of diversity, equity and inclusion must be central to our labors as faculty, staff and students in higher education,” she said in KU’s announcement. “As the largest unit on campus, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has both a duty and an opportunity to create models for meaningful change.”

Carl Lejuez, the dean of CLAS, said Hamer’s research expertise and hands-on experience “developing environments of mutual respect and individual support” would make her a good leader for the job.

Hamer’s academic research focuses primarily on African-American fathers, mothers and families, particularly of the working class, according to KU.

In addition to diversity work at previous institutions, at KU she’s been involved with several diversity-related initiatives, including the Black Faculty and Staff Council, the CLAS Faculty-Student Mentorship Initiative, the CLAS diversity, equity and inclusion work group and efforts in the American studies department to broaden social justice and minority studies offerings.