New leaders to focus on equity and diversity


The University of Utah has created two new leadership positions that focus on equity, diversity and inclusion—an assistant vice president for faculty equity and diversity, and a deputy chief diversity officer.

Myra Washington will start July 1, 2020, as the U’s new assistant vice president for faculty equity and diversity.

Myra Washington will start July 1 as the U’s new assistant vice president for faculty equity and diversity. Among her first responsibilities is collaborating with Sarah Projansky, associate vice president for faculty, and Mary Ann Villarreal, vice president for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), to identify a new deputy chief diversity officer to further expand the U’s programs.

“Equity, diversity and inclusion are defining elements of our University of Utah values,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “We are unwaveringly committed to making this university an even more welcoming and inclusive place.”

Washington will work with departments and colleges across campus to ensure attention to equity, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the faculty hiring process—starting with hiring plans and recruitment and continuing through campus visits and onboarding. Additionally, Washington will develop and oversee programs that support and mentor faculty from underrepresented populations. Boosting retention, promotion, tenure and faculty review processes will be key as well, Projansky said.

Washington, who is currently an associate professor of communication and journalism at the University of New Mexico, was selected as part of a national search, with broad input from a wide range of campus stakeholders. She brings substantial experience with the design and leadership of professional development and support organizations for faculty of color, including the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies, where she is a founding member.

“Myra’s passion for and commitment to social equity is both tenacious and infectious,” Projansky said.

Washington received her doctorate in communications research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012. Her research includes analyses of race and gender in popular culture—across television, film and digital media. She has been teaching communication and journalism at the University of New Mexico for the past eight years.

“I am thrilled about this opportunity because I believe diversity creates quality; that diverse ideas yield better knowledge and decisions; being more broadly inclusive yields more democratic outcomes,” Washington said. “My aim in this position is to show how having more and different ideas, experiences, and bodies means a better, more expansive understanding of the world around us.”