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Championing Diversity and Inclusion

January 4, 2018
Emily Monago and family
Chief Diversity Officer Emily Monago with her children, UW students Uchechukwu and Dara Monago.

UW’s new chief diversity officer will lead the university’s efforts for greater diversity, equity and inclusion.

By Micaela Myers

Emily Monago is looking to make a difference in the lives of current and future students of the University of Wyoming, as well as the broader community. She left Ohio’s Bowling Green State University—where she served as interim administrator-in-charge for equity, diversity and inclusion and director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs—to serve as UW’s chief diversity officer in the newly created Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“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,” President Laurie S. Nichols said of the appointment. “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.”

“To me, it’s really all about the students,” says Monago, who started her new position mid-July. “They’re at the center of making the initiatives that this office will be launching.”

To start with, Monago has been meeting with students, faculty and staff to learn about the university’s rich history and to get their thoughts on equity and inclusion—and how the new office can help support that. She’s also assembling a council for diversity, equity and inclusion. “Every constituent group we have—community partners, students, faculty and staff—will be represented on the council,” Monago says. The council will work with her in creating the UW strategic diversity plan, which directly ties into UW’s larger strategic plan.

“The big bullet points are definitely the recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation of diverse student populations—also the recruitment, hiring and training of diverse faculty and staff,” she says. “We’re also looking at diversity education—that’s a big piece. We want our students to graduate having cultural competence and being able to work in any environment.”

This semester, renowned diversity educator and co-founder of the Social Justice Training Institute, Kathy Obear, will visit UW to kick off diversity education for the campus community. The talks will be aimed at deepening the capacity to create inclusive campus environments that support student success, including learning to recognize microaggressions and to address them. Obear will also launch diversity education workshops for faculty and staff. 

Monago plans to work with athletics as well to help student-athletes feel more included throughout the UW community. In addition, a campus climate survey will be conducted to create a benchmark and to identify areas for improvement.

Of course, students don’t just stay on campus, and Monago’s goals include community outreach, which may take the form of partnering with local elementary schools for activities, workshops and teacher education. This was one of the many reasons Monago wanted to live and work in Wyoming. 

“I was really excited to be a part and co-lead the City of Bowling Green Human Relations Commission back in Bowling Green,” she says. “Working on initiatives for the community that help make the community more welcome to people coming from all over the world—I really have a desire to do something along those lines as well in the Laramie community in the future.”

Monago earned a doctorate in communications studies from Bowling Green in 2008, a master’s in public administration from Kent State University in 1999, and a bachelor’s in general studies from Kent State in 1993. Her two children now attend UW as an undergraduate student and a graduate student. Of her move to Laramie, she says: “I was so excited to come and be a part of the community. My spouse and children are enjoying the Laramie community as well.”

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