Shawnrece Campbell named Assistant Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion

Former Competency-Based Project Director and Coordinator at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi joins diversity and inclusion staff.
DIVERSITY INCLUSION APPOINTMENT — Dr. Shawnrece Campbell, newly appointed Assistant Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion welcomed to NMU.
DIVERSITY INCLUSION APPOINTMENT — Dr. Shawnrece Campbell, newly appointed Assistant Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion welcomed to NMU.

Dr. Shawnrece Campbell, the newly appointed Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Diversity & Inclusion was recently hired at NMU.

The focus of this role is to lead the university in diversity and inclusion efforts, said Campbell. That includes tasks from diversifying faculty and staff to making sure she is helping to close the opportunity gaps for students, faculty and staff.

The role ensures that folks have equity in access by partnering with the other new AVPs in the division of People, Culture and Wellness, such as the AVP of WellBeing and the AVP of Sustainability, with an inclusion focus.

“I was actually seeking a position that was very much about diversity and inclusion, especially with what’s happening in higher education these days,” Campbell said. 

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She has always worked in the area of diversity and inclusion, from the courses she has taught to the curriculum and the training she studied, not to mention the formal training as NMU’s diversity officer, engaging in leading diversity and inclusion-related matters.

“It mattered to me that the institution that I chose had, for me, evidence that they were very serious about their commitment to diversity and inclusion, but [that] they were not going to hide that commitment to diversity and inclusion, and that they really had put and or were working on putting the infrastructure in place with the people there, and the resources and the funding to make sure that diversity inclusion efforts were successful,” Campbell said.

“There were a lot of metrics I was looking for,” Campbell said. “I even interviewed at Northern Michigan to make sure that they lived up to – in person – who they appear to be on paper, including from the job description to the website.”

Campbell explained the experience as wonderful and the job as something she could 100% see herself in, from the great colleagues she had met to feeling supported in her work.

“It’s not necessarily a particular job or title you’re looking for, but you should know the content of what work you want to do and look for that content in the role or position that you’re interviewing for,” Campbell said. “And then you’re always working in your passion area.”

At this stage in her life, Campbell described only wanting to work in her passions, and that is it.

“There, I know I’m making a difference, I can feel it. I know I’m sharing what I’m really good at and it’s helped me to impact and improve the lives of others,” Campbell said.

Campbell described the universities she has worked for to be unique from each other, for the most part. She spent almost 20 years at a private institution in Florida, a master’s institution which was research-filled and heavy on high impact practices and student research experience. Then there was Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, which is a regional institution like Northern Michigan, but it is not rural.

“It serves a predominantly Hispanic student population. More than 50% of the students there were Hispanic. And that was very different from the private institution I was at which was a PWI, a predominantly white institution,” Campbell said. “So, gaining the experience of what that means and how you support faculty, working with minority populations, student populations, was a great experience too because anything you do for one group can benefit all groups.”

There were a lot of initiatives that were aimed at the Latin American adult student population, said Campbell. They would pilot project them, and successful ones then were offered to all students. 

“Being able to think in those strategic terms, being able to utilize certain grant dollars or federal funding that were set aside for one student body to pilot something and then think about the scalability so that it can be used for all, I love that,” Campbell said. 

She said Northern Michigan has similar characteristics to Texas A&M Corpus Christi, but she had never worked with an institution that serves a rural population or is in a rural zone itself. 

“[The AVP role] also would give me the experience and chance to work with Indigenous populations, local tribal nations. I would be serving similar roots, groups that are often underserved in different ways, and bringing the skill sets I use with the groups who are underserved,” Campbell said. 

Bringing the knowledge she has gained over the years to Northern Michigan University, she is learning how to serve this new group by offering new strategies and being introduced to strategies she had not thought about before. This is both deepening and widening her experience and knowledge in this area and is showing her how to be able to truly serve multiple constituencies that come from very wildly diverse backgrounds. 

“I knew Northern Michigan was also very interested in internationalizing in a big way, so that element coming into it [to] also to make sure that at the end of the day, you have a space where all students, faculty and staff can practice who they culturally identify [as] and the way in which they feel supported, and also an environment in which they feel they can thrive,” Campbell said. “It’s important that that environment is on campus, as well as working with the local communities to make sure they have the same environment in the local communities if they live off campus.”

Campbell says the interview process was an exhilarating experience, with energy that can take you through the entire day, but you do not realize how tired you are until the end. One of the keys to it is knowing your ‘why,’ your purpose, she said.

She has not been back to Marquette since the interview took place. Despite many virtual interactions, there were commitments she still had in Texas, including family, packing and other prior commitments such as a state conference she is co-chairing for the Student Leadership Institute and at which she is presenting herself.

“I worked out a plan to get up there as quickly as I can,” Campbell said. 

Campbell said she has been onboarding virtually, meeting with the provost and deans regularly. She attended the President’s Executive Council and meetings with undergrad students who helped to run the diversity and inclusion office started this week. She has also met with programming assistance and marketing assistance as well as Joe Compton, who has been the interim leader of the diversity and inclusion office while they were in the process of hiring.

She has also had a few student groups reach out to her and will start meeting with them after her arrival on campus so she can hear what is working for them and what is not. She has been able to get a lot done virtually, and describes it as a good transition period, by being involved and getting a sense of what is happening on campus before she really gets here.

“I am super excited about this new role, and the synergies with the new AVPs as well as with the leadership at Northern Michigan University. I can’t wait to physically get to Marquette and be living there, and I’m only expecting awesomeness to be the results of what’s produced between all these wonderful synergies that are going on,” Campbell said.

She encourages people to come in and talk about how she might be able to help them achieve their goals as related to diversity, inclusion and belonging.

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