Dear Carolina Community,
We are pleased to share that after a national search, Leah Cox, a higher education leader with more than 30 years of experience, has been named our vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.
In this role, Leah will serve on both the chancellor’s and provost’s leadership teams, advising us as we continue the important work of building a campus community in which all students, faculty and staff know that they belong and are equipped to thrive in a global society. She will lead the development and implementation of opportunities under “Build Our Community Together,” the first initiative of the University’s strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. She also will work with University leaders to establish accountability metrics and lead the effort to gather data and points of view to assess the current campus culture and climate, set goals and mark progress.
Leah is currently the inaugural vice president for inclusion and institutional equity at Towson University in Maryland, a position she has held since 2017. In her time at Towson, she launched a university-wide diversity strategic plan for inclusive excellence and coordinated numerous campus climate studies. She led the development of institution-wide DEI trainings and educational programs on cultural intelligence, implicit bias, anti-racism and the inclusive classroom. She has extensive experience in policy development, working with general counsel and others to ensure university policies are inclusive and up to date. In collaboration with the provost, she developed and implemented new hiring practices, inclusive search trainings and created the Inclusion Advocates Program to improve diversity among faculty and staff. To help the community navigate difficult conversations, she collaborated with others to develop Dialogues@TU, a program that brings people together in facilitated conversation to broaden perspectives about tough topics.
A recognized leader among chief diversity officers, Leah is the president of the Mid-Atlantic Diversity Officers in Higher Education. Previously, she served on the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Advisory Committee on Sexual Violence, was a member of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Sexual Assault Response Team and served on Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Task Force on Sexual Assault on College Campuses.
Prior to her position at Towson, Leah was at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, where she served as special assistant to the president and chief diversity officer, Title IX coordinator, and campus ombudsman. She previously worked at Gallaudet University, where she established its first office for minority students. Leah holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Maryland College, a master’s degree from the University of Arizona and a doctoral degree from the University of Maryland at College Park.
We would like to thank Sibby Anderson-Thompkins, who has served in this position in an interim role for the past 15 months. Over the course of a tumultuous year in which we saw our community and our nation challenged, Sibby has worked tirelessly with colleagues across the University to provide support for students, faculty and staff and establish new programs, including the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, comprised of chief DEI officers from our schools and units.
During this time as interim, Sibby served as co-chair of “Build Our Community Together,” the first strategic initiative in Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. To bolster the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion, she hired its first director of education, community engagement and belonging. Sibby helped develop and implement the Collaborative for Resilience that sponsored the “Culture of Care” series and provided space for education, coping, healing and resilience around issues of identity-based and racial trauma. She also spearheaded a new DEI Fellows program for undergraduate students that will advance diversity and inclusion engagement across the University. Sibby’s work has made the Office for Diversity and Inclusion stronger, and we are extraordinarily grateful.
We would also like to express our appreciation to Suzanne Barbour, dean of The Graduate School, and members of the search committee for their hard work over several months to hold focus group meetings, identify and interview candidates, and ultimately provide us with a group of outstanding finalists.
Leah will begin her work at Carolina on July 19. In the meantime, please join us in congratulating her on her new role and welcoming her to campus.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz
Robert A. Blouin
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost