TaJuan Wilson, executive director of Student Programs and Diversity and assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, has been named the University of Iowa’s new associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. He will begin on June 28.
“Dr. Wilson brings great enthusiasm and initiative,” says Montse Fuentes, incoming UI executive vice president and provost. “He’s a passionate leader with an impressive track record of using data to assess and improve campus culture; weaving diversity, equity, and inclusion into every unit on campus; and advocating for students of diverse backgrounds, identities, and experiences. I’m very excited and eager to work together to continue cultivating the division as an institutional and educational resource.”
Since joining the Medical University of South Carolina in 2016, Wilson has had daily oversight of student programs and student diversity, including recruitment via pipeline programming, orientation, student life, off-campus housing, student communications, emergency preparedness, and volunteer programs and service learning. He also works in conjunction with the Cultural Arts Project Council to provide cultural programming for campus, serves as faculty advisor to the University Honor Council and Student Government Association, is a member of the Behavioral Support Intervention Team and leads campus/community projects involving the local chamber of commerce and school districts.
“I’m excited to be joining a university that is asking the tough questions and is ready to act on what it is hearing from the community,” says Wilson. “My hope is through assessment and education, we can build and cultivate pipelines to increase diversity among our faculty, staff, and student body and create a more culturally conscious campus.”
Before his time at the Medical University of South Carolina, Wilson was executive director of multicultural student retention and TRIO Programs at Missouri State University. In addition, he served as interim executive director of the Multicultural Resources Center and LGBTQ Center and coordinator of the Brother to Brother Male Mentoring Initiative.
Wilson was one of three candidates who participated in public forums on the UI campus in March. The search was led by Liz Tovar, associate athletics director for Student-Athlete Academic Services, and Claire F. Fox, professor and chair in the Department of English.
“Dr. Wilson has demonstrated skills and experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that will enable him to work collaboratively across different sectors of the university,” says Fox. “He will develop meaningful relationships among students, faculty, staff, and community members, broadening the reach of impactful programs that are already underway.”
Wilson received BA degrees in political science and communication from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 2007, and a master of public administration and government management degree from Keller Graduate School of Management in Oklahoma City in 2009. He received an EdD in higher education administration and instructional leadership from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, in 2015.
Tovar says Wilson is joining the university at a critical and transformative time for the campus.
“I believe his vision is in line with our core values and principles with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” says Tovar. “He will provide a continued sense of energy, transparency, and accountability within this area, and is equipped with a strong support network, both campuswide and in the community, who view diversity as part of the fabric of our institution. He will make a terrific addition to our administration.”
Wilson succeeds Melissa Shivers, who has been serving as interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion since May 2018. Shivers began serving after former Interim Chief Diversity Officer Lena Hill left the UI in May 2018 to become Dean of the College at Washington and Lee University in Lexington City, Virginia. Hill was appointed on an interim basis in July 2017 after former Chief Diversity Officer Georgina Dodge accepted a position at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
“I’d like to personally thank the search committee for carefully assessing our campus needs, appropriately shaping the position in light of this assessment, and broadening our perspective to focus not just on diversity but also equity and inclusion,” says UI President Bruce Harreld. “Dr. Wilson is a strong leader who will help us weave these important insights into our day-to-day actions and culture. I look forward to working with him in making our campus an even better place for all of us to work and learn.”
Wilson will receive an annual salary of $224,000. His appointment must be approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.