LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bellarmine University President Susan M. Donovan announced that Dr. Tomarra Adams has been named Bellarmine’s new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. She will begin her new duties on July 1.
Adams is currently Dean for Undergraduate Education and an associate professor of African American Studies and Social Work at Spalding University.
A commitment to equity and inclusion is a major pillar of Bellarmine’s strategic plan, “Tradition and Transformation.” The Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer advises Donovan and other Cabinet members on university-wide initiatives, programs and policies and co-chairs the President’s Advisory Board on Equity and Inclusion.
During the past academic year, Bellarmine finalized a new affirmative action plan; conducted a campus accessibility audit; conducted training and professional development workshops for several offices; and launched an internal grant program to support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives from faculty, staff and students. The current first-year class is the most diverse in Bellarmine’s history, with 25 percent of the students identifying as students of color.
As the Dean for Undergraduate Education at Spalding University, Adams focuses on the success of a diverse community of students. She helped to craft a new university-wide aspirational diversity statement and conducted an inventory of the current diversity, equity and inclusion activity across the institution. A new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer position at that institution is partially funded by a grant that she wrote in collaboration with the Advancement Office.
She worked with Spalding’s First-Year Experience Office to introduce the Shirley Chisholm Learning Community with a focus on the intersectionality of race, gender and class and community activism. She supported the School of Liberal Studies faculty in creating a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies as well as a Women’s and Gender Studies minor.
Adams also collaborated with community partners to begin a mentor program for first-generation college students; worked with the Center for Accessibility Services to reimagine its work to include learning equity; and supported efforts of the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance (SAGA) group to prepare for their campuswide activities and project their platform to other administrators, among other initiatives.
Adams holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Pan-African Studies, a master’s in Social Work and a Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Louisville. She has spent much of her career at U of L—as a social worker, Interim Director of the Multicultural Center, an Assistant Dean for Advising, a professor and director of Undergraduate Studies in Pan-African Studies.
She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the National Council on Black Studies, the Southern Conference on African American Studies and the National Association of Academic Advising.
Adams succeeds Dr. Donald “DJ” Mitchell Jr., Bellarmine’s inaugural CDEIO, who was appointed in June 2020 and departed earlier this year to become the first Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Molloy College in New York.
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