Reg Stewart named chief diversity officer

Appointment signals University of Nevada, Reno commitment to diversity, access, opportunity

10/29/2013 | By: Jane Tors  |

Reg Chhen Stewart has been named chief diversity officer at the University of Nevada, Reno, a full-time role signaling the University's commitment to further accomplish the mission of access and opportunity for underrepresented students as well as the promotion of University-wide diversity efforts for faculty and staff from historically underrepresented backgrounds in higher education. 

"Fostering a diverse community and the corresponding mix of ideas and cultures enriches the college experience and ultimately prepares our students to be truly engaged, global citizens," said University President Marc Johnson. "It's rewarding to see our University-wide commitment to diversity continue to take hold."

Stewart brings 20 years of diversity leadership experience to the role. He joined the University of Nevada, Reno in 1996 and was named director of the University's Center for Student Cultural Diversity in 2003. In 2011, he was named the University's director of diversity initiatives, a part-time role that allowed him to continue as director of the Center for Student Cultural Diversity. Prior to coming to Nevada, Stewart coordinated the alternative testing accommodations in the Disability Resource Center at San Francisco State University and was Upward Bound coordinator in the federally funded TRIO Program at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas.

Stewart helped conceptualize and lead development of the Center for Student Cultural Diversity and its College Life 101, a comprehensive program aimed at improving student retention. College Life 101 was recently recognized as a 2013 Example of Excelencia by Excelencia in Education, a national non-profit organization that accelerates Latino student success in higher education. Earlier this year, College Life 101 was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a national best practice program and in 2011 the program received a CollegeKeys Compact Innovation Award. With Stewart's shift to the chief diversity officer role, the Center for Student Cultural Diversity now reports to Marcelo Vasquez, associate dean of students, Student Services Division.

The number of underrepresented students choosing to attend the University continues to grow. Thirty-one percent of the University's fall 2013 student enrollment is comprised of students of color, up from 29 percent in fall 2012.

"We have demonstrated our ability to lead the nation in efforts toward retaining and developing underrepresented students at the University of Nevada, Reno," said Stewart.

The recruitment and support of underrepresented faculty remains at the forefront of Stewart's objectives and he is optimistic about the opportunities.

"There are conversations happening across campus about how we can strengthen our recruitment of underrepresented faculty to foster a community of academic excellence," said Stewart. "It takes University-wide interest and energy to sustain a culture that values diversity. A significant part of my role is serving as a catalyst to help move the ideas and conversations forward."

Incorporating diversity and inclusiveness into the curriculum and the potential to develop new academic programs of study are examples of the conversations taking place with faculty. Another focus for Stewart is strengthening outreach to regional community organizations and leaders, and helping forge these community-based partnerships to support student and faculty recruitment and success. 

Stewart reports to Johnson, serves on both the President's Council and Academic Leadership Council, and is the University's representative to the Nevada System of Higher Education Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council. He holds doctoral and master's degrees in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a master's degree in counseling education and bachelor's degree in sociology from San Francisco State University. An Oakland, Calif., native with family roots in New Orleans, Stewart is the first person in his family to graduate from college. Through his membership in Alpha Phi Alpha, Stewart continues to mentor young men seeking to graduate from college and obtain graduate and professional degrees.


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