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President's Message | Reports & Announcements


August 31, 2016

TO: AU Community
FROM: Neil Kerwin, President

Caleen Sinnette Jennings, Chair, Council on Diversity and Inclusion; Professor of Performing Arts, College of Arts and Sciences

SUBJECT: President's Council on Diversity and Inclusion


We are pleased to inform the university community of the membership of the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion.

The members come from every major campus constituency—faculty, students, staff, and alumni. They each bring expertise and experience that will contribute greatly to the university’s efforts to build and maintain a community where all can pursue learning, work, and service in an environment that allows us all to thrive.

The members are:

  • Caleen Sinnette Jennings, chair, Council on Diversity and Inclusion; professor of performing arts, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kelly Alexander, chair, Diversity Committee; member, Staff Council; director of public relations, University Communications and Marketing
  • Samssa Ali, program coordinator, Pakistan Women’s Council, School of International Service
  • Sara Bendoraitis, director of programming, outreach and advocacy, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Campus Life
  • Tristan Cabello, director of American studies, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lia Epperson, professor and associate dean for faculty and academic programs, Washington College of Law
  • Alan Kraut, professor of history, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lauren Lumpkins, director of diversity and inclusion, Student Government
  • Sara Nieves-Grafals, member, AU Alumni Board; clinical psychologist
  • Thi Nguyen-Southern, associate general counsel, Office of the General Counsel
  • Mark Schaefer, university chaplain, Kay Spiritual Life Center, Office of Campus Life
  • Kenya Sumner, president, SOC Graduate Leadership Council

As soon as schedules allow, the council will be convened for an initial organizational meeting and their first consideration of agenda items.

The mission of the council will be to monitor and report progress on elements of our diversity and inclusion plan, reaffirmed in an update that I shared last April. They will also review and suggest changes in institutional policies and practices, generate new ideas, and solicit input from the larger American University community.

Based on this charge, the agenda of the council will evolve as it identifies areas in need of attention, either through its own inquiry and deliberation, or from issues, concerns, and ideas presented by members of the university community and by external circumstances that arise. The council will also act as an important source of advice and counsel when issues and incidents on our campus or in the larger society require a response from our university.

The council will have access to any resources needed—people and materials, both internal to the university and external—to assist them in their work.

This promises to be an exciting, active, and challenging year for our campus as we seek to understand and get more deeply involved with what’s happening around us. Members of the community who wish to communicate with the council may do so at

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