September 30, 2013

Stephens to lead Center for Inclusive Excellence

Nathan Stephens, senior coordinator of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia for more than six years, will become the new director of the Center for Inclusive Excellence at Southern Illinois University Carbondale effective Oct. 1.

His appointment follows a national search and campus-wide interview process.

“The screening committee and others participating in the interview process found Nathan to be engaging, authentic and able to relate well with students, faculty and staff,” said Katie Sermersheim, SIU’s interim dean of students. “He brings to SIU extensive knowledge of diversity and multicultural theories and practices within higher education as well as strong administrative, organizational and training skills.”

The Center for Inclusive Excellence works to develop, articulate and implement a comprehensive plan for recruiting, retaining and supporting historically underrepresented students, Sermersheim said. As director, Stephens will lead SIU’s multicultural programs and services with a focus on teaching and learning, campus outreach, student support and community relations. 

“I know some SIU alumni, I was impressed with the growth and development of one young man in particular, and I knew someone else who sent his child to SIU. That speaks volumes about the campus,” Stephens said. “And when I viewed the website, I was impressed with the work on inclusive excellence being done here. The campus visit confirmed what I thought.”

Stephens served as senior coordinator of the University of Missouri-Columbia’s black culture center from May 2006 to January 2013, when he left to work on his doctoral dissertation. Prior to joining the university he served as special projects coordinator for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Missouri and a program director and youth advocate for the Youth Empowerment Program in Columbia, MO.

He holds certification as a Title IX administrator, social justice educator and diversity trainer. He has conducted research and delivered presentations on the black student experience, the image of black males and other topics, and he has taught diversity related courses at William Woods University and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Stephens holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Columbia College in Missouri and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where his is completing his doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy analysis.

SIU’s Center for Inclusive Excellence, a unit of the Office of the Dean of Students, includes the Black Resource Center, Hispanic Resource Center, LGBTQ Resource Center and the newly created Women’s Resource Center.

"The center is an important part of our legacy as an inclusive campus,” said Chancellor Rita Cheng. “It’s also important to our future as we reinforce our commitment to welcoming and serving our very diverse student body. I look forward to the continued contributions of the center under Nathan’s leadership."