University News

Saint Joseph’s University Welcomes Leader in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to Spearhead Integrated, Campus-Wide Efforts

by Gail Benner

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PHILADELPHIA (January 13, 2019) –  Saint Joseph’s University has appointed Nicole R. Stokes, Ph.D., to serve as the University’s associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion, the result of a thorough national search. Dr. Stokes brings 25 years of academic and administrative experience and deep expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) research, administration and pedagogy to Saint Joseph’s. In the DEI field, she is a leader in first-generation and diverse learning initiatives, equal employment, international education and women’s leadership.

With a lifelong career in higher education, Dr. Stokes’ background combines research, scholarship and authorship with a personal and professional commitment to promoting equity. She most recently served as associate vice president for institutional effectiveness and diversity at Holy Family University and has also had stints at Quinnipiac University, the Fashion Institute of Technology and Vassar College.

In her new role at Saint Joseph’s University, which has an institution-wide purview and reports to the provost, Dr. Stokes will provide leadership, advocacy, support services and programming to strengthen the culture of inclusion and diversity at the University. Her work builds on the DEI foundation advanced under the tenure of President Mark C. Reed, Ed.D. Already a centerpiece of the Saint Joseph’s strategic plan, Thinking Anew, Acting Anew, diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority of the University and Dr. Reed, who oversaw the opening of the Center for Inclusion and Diversity in 2016, initiated the first presidential-level council devoted to this topic, and appointed the first chief diversity and inclusion officer.

“Dr. Stokes brings a wealth of academic, research and practical, hands-on experience to this post,” said Dr. Reed. “Her expertise in academic inclusive excellence will enrich all aspects of the University, including the student experience, and help drive forward many of our strategic goals.”  

Throughout her career, Dr. Stokes has led efforts to develop programming, training, surveys and curricula focused on diversity and inclusion, including the implementation of diversity modules in the first-year experience course, the general education curriculum and the capstone course at Holy Family. She has led extensive training for faculty, staff and administrators on topics ranging from difficult classroom conversations and free speech to diversity in hiring and retention efforts.

Dr. Stokes rose to the top of a very impressive candidate pool early in the search process and was a clear frontrunner throughout the interview process,” said University Provost Cheryl McConnell, Ph.D. “Her holistic approach to inclusion on campus and her impressive track record working in both the academic and co-curricular realms make her the ideal candidate to lead these essential efforts at Saint Joseph’s.”

“I was drawn to Saint Joseph’s University because of its mission-driven, institution-wide approach to diversity, equity and inclusion, and its clear understanding that the nation’s universities have a responsibility to ensure students leave their college experience ready to lead and thrive in a diverse workforce and society,” said Dr. Stokes. “Through a data-driven approach, my work has shown that students need to experience diversity across domains – academics and student life – to confidently develop these skills. I look forward to applying these approaches at Saint Joseph’s and building upon the strong diversity work that has already been done at the University.”

An authority in implementing inclusive excellence in academia, Dr. Stokes serves on the Executive Board of the American Council on Education Women’s Network and the PHL Diversity and Inclusion Conference Planning Board. Dr. Stokes is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Minority Serving Institutions Aspiring Leaders Program and holds certifications from the National Coalition Building Institute’s Leadership for Diversity Institute and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

She holds bachelor’s degrees in sociology and journalism, along with a master of arts in sociology and a master of professional studies in multicultural education from State University of New York College at New Paltz. She earned a Ph.D. in sociology and public policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.