Hodges Persley to Serve as Acting Vice Provost for DEIB

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, 2:45 p.m.
KU Lawrence staff, faculty and affiliates All Lawrence and Edwards Students

Dear Colleague,

I’m pleased to share with you that Associate Professor of American Studies and of African and African American Studies Nicole Hodges Persley has stepped forward to assist the university and will serve as Acting Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. She will begin a limited term effective immediately.

Prof. Hodges Persley is an honored faculty member who also has a courtesy appointment with the Department of Theatre & Dance where she served as Chair and helped merge the units during her tenure. She has served as associate dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Her research, teaching, service and creative endeavors have developed her unique background and skillset for the task ahead.

She first joined the KU faculty in 2009 and in the years since has received several awards and honors in recognition of her teaching, mentoring and campus contributions. In 2017 she received the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity’s Pride Award. In 2016 she received both the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Diversity Leadership Award and the Center for Educational Opportunity Program’s McNair Scholars Mentoring Award. In 2015 she received the university’s Byron T. Shutz Teaching Award. Prior to arriving at KU she was honored with the Mellon Foundation’s Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring Award.

Her scholarly work focuses on race and performance and includes several articles and book chapters on Hip-hop, and African American theater, acting and directing. She is the author of Sampling and Remixing Blackness in Hip-hop Theater and Performance, and Breaking it Down: Audition Techniques for Actors of the Global Majority, co-authored with Monica White Ndounou. She is a graduate of Spelman College and she earned a master’s in African American studies at the University of California - Los Angeles and a doctorate in American studies and ethnicity from the University of Southern California.

She has acted and directed in theater, television and film, and is a member of SAG/AFTRA, SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society). She is a Board of Trustees member of the NTC (National Theatre Conference) and an Executive Committee member of the American Society for Theatre Research. Prof. Hodges Persley has been the Artistic Director of KC Melting Pot Theatre, Kansas City’s premier African American theater company, since 2016.  

I invite you to learn more about her and her extensive scholarly and professional work.

The important work of DEIB will not stop. In this role, Prof. Hodges Persley will advance a number of goals and initiatives for our university, including and not limited to:

  • Work closely with the Provost and with advice from key constituent groups (including those representing people of color, LGBTQIA, Women, and Disabilities communities) to set the vision, plan and strategies for DEIB that focus on advancing human rights for each Jayhawk student, staff and faculty based on philosophies and strategies of universal design, restorative justice, and calling in members of the KU Lawrence-Edwards community to each do their part in this work.
  • Work closely with KU leaders to establish, measure, monitor and communicate metrics, targets, benchmarks and progress toward success for improving DEIB at KU Lawrence-Edwards.
  • Convene, lead, support and provide development for Provost DEIB Steering Committee as a network of Equity Advisors to launch the Inclusive Excellence Framework to all units during Spring 2022, and facilitate reporting at the end of the semester.
  • Convene, lead and facilitate the Provost DEIB Advisory Council, and meet with identity groups and other advisory groups as appropriate to inform the work of DEIB at KU Lawrence-Edwards.
  • Lead DEIB initiatives for KU Lawrence-Edwards by co-chairing the Jayhawks Rising objective to improve diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and work to implement strategies with the strategic plan implementation team.

We are set to launch the search for the next vice provost for DEIB this semester and will soon announce the search committee and position description. Prof. Hodges Persley will serve in this Acting VP role until our new vice provost comes onboard. I look forward to working closely with her as we continue to implement our Inclusive Excellence Framework and other campus initiatives. She will work closely with many others across campus including Assistant Vice Provost for DEIB Erin Duran, the DEIB leadership in Student Affairs and Faculty Development, and with our DEIB Equity Advisors.

Please take a moment to thank her for taking on this important leadership role.



Barbara A. Bichelmeyer

Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor