UMSI creates new assistant deanship for diversity, equity and inclusion

Dean Thomas A. Finholt will appoint Judith M. Lawson Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the School of Information, pending Regental approval. Creation of this new Assistant Dean position was approved by the University of Michigan Board of Regents at their October 20, 2016 meeting. Since 2012, Lawson has been the Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs at the school.

“The diversity of the UMSI faculty, students and staff is a crucial asset in helping us to meet our mission of helping people to use information, with technology, to build a better world,” said Dean Finholt. “We actively seek to increase the diversity of our school and create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone who elects to join our community. To that end, we have elevated our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion to the highest levels of administration within our school by creating this new position.”

The assistant dean will have several key priorities: developing innovative strategies and programs to enhance DEI within UMSI; aligning the school’s initiatives with campus, state and national initiatives; and providing leadership in the implementation of the school’s diversity efforts.

“Judy Lawson is ideally qualified to take on these new responsibilities,” Dean Finholt said. “For the past three years, she has chaired or co-chaired the school’s Diversity Committee and initiated a comprehensive range of activities designed to increase our inclusiveness, including faculty and staff training workshops and student events. She chaired the dean's task force that developed school’s diversity statement and goals in 2012/2013. As director of student affairs, she worked to improve our diversity recruitment and foster an inclusive environment for students. As assistant dean for academic and student affairs, she spent approximately a third of her time on DEI activities; now she will devote one hundred percent of her time to implementing the school’s strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“I’m honored and excited to be entrusted with this opportunity,” Lawson said. “In the next few months I would plan to meet with UMSI students, staff and faculty, with university officials and national experts to collaboratively chart our course going forward with DEI initiatives. This is a critical time for our school and our university to press forward for social justice through diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Prior to her appointment as Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Lawson was the director of the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs at UMSI. She began her career at the University of Michigan Career Center, where she served as assistant director of internship services and senior assistant director of recruitment services. She was the 2008 recipient of the university's Staff Recognition Award for Outstanding Leadership. She holds an MA in higher education and student affairs and a BA in psychology from The Ohio State University and is currently enrolled in the doctoral program of higher education at the University of Michigan. 

Posted October 21, 2016