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Dr. J. Goosby Smith Named Vice President for Community Belonging and Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. April Harris Akinloye Named Assistant Vice President for Community Belonging

March 3, 2021

As many of you may remember, in the first few months of my presidency, I made it clear that hiring a chief diversity officer would be among my top priorities. This proposal was unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed by the Steering Team in January of last year, and over the course of the last 14 months, we began the process of developing a job description, building a search committee, and identifying candidates who would be able to articulate and advance Pepperdine's goals for diversity, inclusion, and belonging. We have now concluded that process, and I'm delighted to share that we have invited Dr. J. Goosby Smith to serve as the University's inaugural vice president for community belonging and chief diversity officer. Dr. Smith will formally assume her new role on June 1, 2021.

Dr. Smith will join us from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where she currently serves as associate professor of leadership; associate professor of management; assistant provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion; and director of the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Center. In her new role, she will report directly to me and serve as a member of the University's Steering Team. She will also be a principal leader on the University Diversity Council for which she previously served as inaugural faculty co-chair in 2005.

No stranger to Pepperdine, Dr. Smith served previously as an assistant professor of organizational behavior in the Seaver College Business Administration Division from 2002 to 2006, and then as a tenured associate professor of organizational behavior in the same division from 2011 to 2015. She has also served as assessment coordinator for the Seaver Diversity Council and as an adjunct professor in the Graziadio Business School's MBA program. She received her BS in computer science from Spelman College and her MBA and PhD in organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve University. She anticipates earning her master of divinity from Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, in December 2021.

I'm also thrilled to announce that this process has led to the creation of an additional role to lead the University's diversity and inclusion initiatives alongside the vice president for community belonging. Joining Dr. Smith will be Dr. April Harris Akinloye ('00, MA '05), who will return to her alma mater as the assistant vice president for community belonging.

Dr. Harris Akinloye is a double alumna of Pepperdine, receiving her BA in speech communication and religious studies from Seaver College and her MA in education from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. She earned her PhD in education with a focus on cultural perspectives from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Harris Akinloye will join Pepperdine from Social Good Solutions where she is currently a senior consultant for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She previously served as the chief diversity officer at Vanguard University.

I am deeply grateful to the Search Committee for its work in identifying these exceptional candidates, and I want to give my sincere thanks to everyone in the Pepperdine community who has offered feedback, insights, and encouragement throughout this important process. Dr. Smith and Dr. Harris Akinloye are two extraordinarily qualified leaders that have a deep love for Pepperdine and our mission, and I am confident they will lead us to a new level of inclusion, excellence, and genuine belonging that befits our community's unwavering commitment to radical Christian hospitality. Please join me in welcoming each of them back to the University.