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UW Hires Chief Diversity Officer, VP for Student Affairs

May 12, 2017
head portrait of a woman
Emily Monago

An administrator who has led efforts to create a diverse, welcoming and inclusive environment at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University has been selected as the University of Wyoming’s first chief diversity officer.

The appointment of Emily Monago was approved today (Friday) by the UW Board of Trustees. She will begin her job at UW July 17.

Also today, the Board of Trustees approved the appointment of UW Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Sean Blackburn as UW’s vice president for student affairs, succeeding retiring Vice President Sara Axelson. He will begin his new duties May 16.

Monago will report directly to President Laurie Nichols and is charged with leading the university’s diversity efforts, in collaboration with the vice presidents.

“I’m delighted that Dr. Monago has agreed to lead our efforts to continue to make UW a welcoming and supportive place for all members of the diverse university community,” Nichols says. “With her leadership, I’m confident we will improve our efforts to recruit and retain outstanding students, staff and faculty; be competitive and nurturing as an institution in an increasingly global and diverse world; and graduate students who are prepared to lead, to understand and to appreciate cultural differences.”

Among other duties, Monago will oversee development of a strategic plan for diversity, inclusion and community engagement; establish and chair a UW Diversity Council; serve as adviser to several diversity programs on campus, including Martin Luther King Jr. Days of Dialogue and the Shepard Symposium; and provide input in diverse employee and student recruitment and retention efforts.

"During my visit to the University of Wyoming, I met some amazing students, faculty, staff and community members, and had some great conversations about diversity, inclusion and community engagement,” Monago says. “I have spent a long time preparing for such a role, and I am filled with gratitude, excitement and honored that members of the UW community have faith in me to be your first chief diversity officer. I plan to continue to make connections and build partnerships that will facilitate coordinating the wonderful work already taking place at UW while developing new initiatives collaboratively with UW's input.”

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Sean Blackburn

Since 2010, Monago has been the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Bowling Green, and she also is the interim administrator in charge of equity, diversity and inclusion programs. She has taught courses in interpersonal communications and worked in Bowling Green’s Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives from 1999-2010.

She received a doctorate in communications studies from Bowling Green in 2008; a master’s degree in public administration from Kent State University in 1999; and a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Kent State in 1993.

Blackburn has been UW’s dean of students and associate vice president since 2014, after serving as associate dean of students at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., since 2012. He holds a master of education in student affairs administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Va. He also earned a bachelor’s degree there in political science with a minor in psychology.

Blackburn also has held positions at Virginia Tech and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Since coming to UW, he has played a key role in strengthening UW’s fraternities and sororities; developing and carrying out an educational campaign against sexual assault; and enhancing student wellness efforts.

The vice president for student affairs oversees UW units focused on student life, including Residence Life and Dining Services, the Dean of Students Office, Campus Recreation, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student Health Service, the University Counseling Center and the Wyoming Union.

“I am confident that Sean will successfully lead our efforts to improve our student housing, enhance the UW student experience and continue the growth of Greek life, among other tasks,” Nichols says. “In his current role, he has shown a strong ability to connect with our students, and I know he will play a key role in helping assure that students remain the university’s top priority.”

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David Jones

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with President Nichols, faculty, staff, students, alumni and families to improve the student experience at the University of Wyoming,” Blackburn says. “Our focus will be on student engagement and success. We will look for innovative ways to increase enrollment and help students persist to graduation.”

Also today, the Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Division of Communications Disorders Professor David Jones, former vice president for academic affairs, as interim dean of the College of Health Sciences.

Jones will serve in that capacity while a national search is undertaken for a successor to Joe Steiner, who will step down July 6 as dean. Jones has been a member of the UW faculty since 2001 and served as associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Health Sciences from 2007-2013. He served as UW’s vice president for academic affairs from October 2013 to July 2016.

A graduate of Westminster College (Pa., 1980) with a B.S. in biology and the University of Iowa with an M.A. (1983) and Ph.D. (1987) in speech pathology, Jones taught at the University of Iowa and Indiana University at Indianapolis before joining the faculty at UW in 2001.

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