Dr. Dionne Jackson, DePauw’s first vice president for Institutional Equity, has laid out her goals and visions for diversity, equity, and inclusion on the DePauw campus.
Prior to serving at DePauw, Jackson worked in the major office at Little Rock, Arkansas as the chief equity officer. She has also worked in higher education for 16 years, namely at Hendricks College in Conway, Arkansas.
“Students have been a very central part of my professional and personal life. And that’s what brings me back to higher education [after working in the major office],” Jackson said.
Jackson was drawn to DePauw because of the Institutional Equity pillar in DePauw’s 2027 Bold & Gold Strategic Plan. According to DePauw University website, the new strategic plan “envisions a future marked by Academic Renewal, a rich and Exemplary Student Experience, an unmistakable commitment to Institutional Equity and a commitment to financial and operational stewardship that ensures DePauw’s future as a Flourishing University.” Jackson said that the way institutional equity involves every aspect of the DePauw experience allows her to work and connect with others.
She also feels connected to DePauw President Lori S.White since they both identify as African-American women. “To be quite honest, I never knew whether I would have an opportunity in higher education to work with a president who has experiences that relate to mine,” Jackson said.
Jackson hasn’t had many opportunities to connect with DePauw students, but some students have reached out to her during her interview and events that she attended on campus. Her favorite DePauw event so far has been the convocation of the Class of 2026. “I have never experienced a student convocation event like that. And it was simply amazing,” Jackson said.
According to Jackson, the goal of her team this academic year is to centralize and elevate diversity, equity, and inclusion at DePauw. They will examine current data, finalize the framework for institutional equity, and evaluate current initiatives. The planned framework carries five parts: compliance with basic human rights, equity training, performance evaluation using data, institutional values, and advocacy for students. Jackson will also work with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and board members to gain feedback going forward.
“When we think about institutional equity, we think about individuals arriving here, finding their place, being their authentic selves, and feeling as if they were not only welcomed but as if they belonged here. That’s when we talk about greater vision,” Jackson said.
Quynh Chu, a sophomore international student, said she appreciates DePauw’s decision to appoint its first vice president for Institutional Equity.
“I support DePauw’s efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus, and I really hope that this decision will have a visible impact,” Chu said.