Shawnboda Mead to Advance UM Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Goals

Respected leader named vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement

Shawnboda Mead

OXFORD, Miss. – Shawnboda Mead, a higher education professional with more than 17 years of experience, has been named vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement at the University of Mississippi.

The board of trustees of the Mississippi Institutions for Higher Learning approved Mead’s appointment at its monthly meeting Thursday (Sept. 16).

As vice chancellor, Mead is responsible for advancing institutional diversity, equity and inclusion goals. She provides leadership and coordination of the university’s strategic efforts to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of the community.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as the vice chancellor for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi,” Mead said. “I love working with our university community to solve the greatest challenges of our society and look forward to how we will collectively create a campus that is more diverse, equitable and inclusive for all.”

Mead joined UM in July 2014 as the inaugural director of the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. Since then, she has served as assistant vice chancellor for diversity, and for the past year as interim vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement.

In her time at UM, she has enhanced the university’s capacity to recruit and retain a more diverse student body, and played a key role in moving strategic initiatives involving faculty and staff.

In addition to a previous role as associate director of diversity and multicultural education at the University of Tennessee, Mead served in various roles at Western Kentucky University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Texas A&M University.

“Dr. Mead has demonstrated outstanding leadership and the ability to advance and guide our new strategic plan, Pathways to Equity,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“I especially value and appreciate her expertise and the demonstrated progress that our institution has made in key areas under her leadership. We appreciate her willingness to serve the university in this important capacity.”

Mead earned a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in student affairs/higher education administration from Western Kentucky University. She holds a doctorate in higher education administration from UM.

A strong proponent of the transformative power of education, diversity and community engagement, Mead believes that we are better when we work with others from different backgrounds to solve some of the greatest challenges facing higher education and society.

“As a native Mississippian, I am especially passionate about the division’s core values of equity and access and opportunity,” Mead said. “All members of our community, particularly those who are historically underrepresented, should have the opportunity and support to successfully navigate the University of Mississippi.

“I am committed to ensuring our DCE team serves as both a leader and willing collaborator, and that we elevate and champion amazing work being done while cultivating opportunities for innovation and equitable change.”

Recently elected as president-elect of the Southern Association for College Student Affairs, Mead is professionally engaged in regional and national organizations. She is a past recipient of the SACSA Bobby E. Leach Award for the Development of Multicultural Relations on Campus and has been honored with the Donald Cole Award for Excellence in Empowering, Leading and Mentoring.

Besides her service in senior leadership, Mead serves on a number of university committees, including as co-chair of the Campus Climate Study committee, co-chair of the Multicultural Competency Task Force and member of Chancellor’s Accessibility and LGBTQ+ Standing Committees. 

Established in January 2017, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement leads the university’s efforts to create a welcoming educational environment for all members of the community and to advance community-engaged scholarship, learning and service across the institution.

Over the past year, Mead and DCE staff have worked collaboratively to provide inclusive teaching resources, create spaces for dialogue, and produce self-care resources related to coping during the pandemic and coping with heightened racial tension. Additionally, they co-created UM’s Stronger Together series focusing on empathy, allyship and action as well as completed the restructuring and rebranding of the Bias Education Response Team.

“I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Shawnboda Mead for her tireless efforts in leading this important work at our university,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “Her leadership keeps these efforts invigorated, strengthens the fabric of our university and plays a key role in advancing our university.

“I look forward to seeing how she will bring our ambitious efforts in Pathways to Equity to fruition.”

Mead is a native of Prentiss. She and her husband, Neal, who serves as Ole Miss associate athletics director for event management, have two sons.