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Lenoir-Rhyne appoints inaugural vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, among other DEI initiatives
Lenoir-Rhyne appoints inaugural vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, among other DEI initiatives

Lenoir-Rhyne announced on Monday that it has hired Avery Staley as its first vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. In this new role, Staley will provide strong leadership and will be instrumental in planning and implementing DEI initiatives and will serve as LR's chief diversity officer. Staley will begin his new role at LR on July 19.

Staley comes to LR from Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he has served the past six years in various administrative positions in human resources, corporate, foundation and governmental relations, HR compliance and as adviser to the president. In addition to his work in higher education, Staley has served as senior adviser and special counsel to former North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton.

"I am very humbly excited to join the Lenoir-Rhyne family," Staley said. "I would like to thank President Whitt, the board of trustees and the senior administration for this opportunity. At a time when diversity, equity and inclusion are rightfully on the national radar, LR has taken an intentional step toward addressing these issues. I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff and administrators to create a national model for DEI efforts."

As the chief diversity officer, Staley will work collaboratively with internal and external campus communities to develop an open, diverse, inclusive and supportive learning and working environment, with a specific focus on underrepresented and marginalized populations. He will report directly to the president and serve on the University's leadership team, as well as on the president's cabinet.

"We are thrilled that Avery is joining the LR community," said Dr. Fred Whitt, president. "I look forward to his leadership in this critical role for the University and expanding our efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion to become an even more inclusive, welcoming and accepting community. I have no doubt he will make a positive impact on each of our campus locations, as well as within our region."

Staley holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, with a minor in political science from North Carolina Central University, a master's degree in liberal arts from Winthrop University, and a juris doctorate from the Vermont Law School. He also is active in the community, having served on the board of directors for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mecklenburg County and on the allocation committee for the Rowan County United Way. He is currently a member of the board of directors for the North Carolina Cyber Academy and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated (Alpha Kappa chapter).

The new VP position one of a number of initiatives at LR to further develop infrastructure around diversity, equity and inclusion. They include:

  • Launch of a national search for a new director of multicultural affairs
  • Launch of a search for the university pastor and director of spiritual life
  • Continuation of diversity training to organizations and corporations throughout the region through the Lenoir-Rhyne Equity and Diversity Institute (LREDI)
  • Audit of policies and procedures through the lens of DEI by interim director of multicultural affairs Aisha Adams
  • Launch of a search for director of human resources
  • Creation of a University-wide taskforce focused on DEI initiatives

"I believe these developments are very positive and signal a culture shift for Lenoir-Rhyne," said LR President Fred Whitt. "As we work to ensure that our campus is welcoming to all, it will be important to spend time listening to our students faculty and staff, revising our policies and procedures through the lens of DEI, and educating ourselves through training around DEI and how to become advocates for change. We all must be committed to this important work."