About us

Meet the Dean of Students

Leilani Kupo

Dr. V. Leilani Kupo (Kanaka Maoli) [pronouns: she/her/hers] was raised away from her ancestral land of Maui and often questioned her “right” to claim her Native Hawaiian ancestry.  Growing up in the continental United States, she depended on her 'ohana (family) to guide and teach her from a distance. Educational attainment has always been an important family value, and it was, and is, a great point of pride for her ‘ohana that she pursued higher education.  Receiving her B.A. from Ripon College (WI) in English, her M.Ed. in College Student Personnel Administration from James Madison University (VA) and her Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University (OH) in Higher Education Administration were points of great celebration for her ‘ohana.  They were also locations of great clarity, as these experiences helped Leilani understand the ways in which education and schooling both liberated and caused trauma to her and her family, due to the use of schooling in colonization and assimilation practices. This clarity set her commitment to raising consciousness and creating change in higher education. It is pursuing her education that she honors her grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, and ‘ohana and strives to be a good ancestor.

Leilani has served as a scholar-practitioner in student affairs since 2000.  Throughout her professional practice, she has centered serving students, community needs, and her cultural values as key components in her work.  Her research interests include educational access, identity development, intersectionality, gender equity, decolonization and Indigenous Knowledge Systems.

For fun, Leilani likes to read, write and make lop-sided pots in ceramics class.

Topics: Being a scholar-practitioner, creating transformative workplaces, social justice fatigue, honoring and centering cultural values in work, advocating for self in the workplace, getting involved in professional organizations, imposter syndrome


Every Nevada student develops the skills and self-efficacy to thrive during their time at the University to become engaged community members locally and globally.


The Dean of Students Office delivers programs and support to foster a culture of empowerment, care, and accountability for all students. We focus on students’ educational, social, and personal development to promote a safe and inclusive campus environment.


  • Respect. We honor the lives and experiences of each individual and promote the expression of different perspectives facilitating a culture of inclusion for all.
  • Equity. We appreciate and serve the unique needs of each individual, striving for an environment where all students thrive.
  • Discovery. We deliver programs and services that encourage students to explore possibilities through engagement in campus, community, and career opportunities.
  • Growth. We support students in strengthening their understanding of self, developing and meeting goals, exercising self-efficacy, and developing into informed and active members of society.
  • Community. We facilitate and foster connection, healthy relationships, and open dialogue to cultivate a resilient Wolf Pack family.

Diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice statement

The Dean of Students Office strives to identify barriers, gaps, and policies that impede access to an equitable and inclusive educational experience at the University of Nevada, Reno. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice enrich us by introducing a range of strategies to understand and engage with the world; identify challenges; and discover, design and problem-solve. Our goal is to address issues directly impacting educational equity and access. As reflective scholar practitioners, we commit to intentionally develop and implement policies, practices, and programs that account for multiple perspectives and address oppression and exclusion issues.

As a Dean of Students team, we demonstrate our commitment through intentional actions, including:

  • Identify, address, and eliminate policies and practices that cause and result in barriers to resources and student success;
  • Develop, enact, and continuously review and revise policies and procedures that promotes equity;
  • Meet students and communities where they are academically, socially, and professionally;
  • Intentionally recruit and hire professionals equipped with an understanding of cultural humility;
  • Provide all Dean of Students staff with ongoing training and professional development in the areas of cultural humility and other DEISJ competencies in order to better serve the University of Nevada, Reno community;
  • Continue to expand our understanding, knowledge, and dialogue in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice (DEISJ);
  • Integrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice (DEISJ) concepts and tenets into trainings, practices, and services (e.g. Universal Design, Critical Race Theory, Trauma Centered Approach, Cultural Humility, etc.).

In the end, our goal is to do better and be better for our University community.