Dr. Stephanie Akunvabey announced as new Chief Diversity Officer


Courtesy of Stephanie Akunvabey

Dr. Stephanie Akunvabey will join RWU as the Chief Diversity Officer in early July.

Rachel Dvareckas, Managing Editor

The search for a new Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer has ended with the university naming Dr. Stephanie Akunvabey for the position.

Akunvabey held multiple positions at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York, most recently as the Interim Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs.

Akunvabey is looking forward to joining the Roger Williams University community.

“I am incredibly excited to engage with the RWU community. I’ve had great conversations with students, staff, faculty and alum about all the things that make RWU great, some of the challenges and future possibilities. I’m excited to get to work,” Akunvabey told The Hawks’ Herald.

University president Ioannis Miaoulis is excited for Akunvabey to join his cabinet.

“Dr. Akunvabey has a breadth of experience working with student life earlier in her career and now serves in academic affairs, providing her with a great range of experiences to advance all aspects of our Equity Action Plan, from scholarship and education to student and employee equity and success, and to be in solidarity with communities we serve,” Miaoulis said.

Miaoulis believes that Akunvabey’s experience will appy well at RWU.

“Another great asset for our DEI work is the fact that Dr. Akunvabey comes to us from a community college in one of the most diverse cities in America,” Miaoulis said. “Dr. Akunvabey’s experiences have prepared her exceptionally well to help RWU continue to serve more diverse populations and to enhance the focus on belonging and well-being of all students, staff and faculty.”

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Margaret Everett was the co-chair of the university’s search committee for the new CDO. She is also excited to welcome Akunvabey to the university.

“I think Stephanie is going to be terrific. I’m looking forward to working with her,” Everett said.

Everett said Akunvabey’s ability to connect with initiatives she implemented at Kingsborough Community College stood out to her. Everett also thinks Akunvabey is warm, engaging and authentic.

“I was very impressed with her understanding of what students of color need in terms of support at a predominantly white institution, as we are, and her insights about the student experience for all students,” Everett said.

Sophie Speliopoulos, a student on the university’s search committee, is thrilled to welcome Akunvabey to campus.

“The entire search committee was dazzled by her initial interview with us. She demonstrated to us that she truly embodies diversity, equity and inclusion in everything she does. I think she will undoubtedly play a crucial part in making RWU live up to the title ‘the university the world needs now,'” Speliopoulos said.

Akunvabey said one of her top priorities will be connecting with campus members to understand the needs of the community. She heard concerns from students and she plans to work with them to meet their needs.

“During the interview process, I spoke with several students who highlighted so many great elements of the Roger Williams experience. They also voiced some concerns. I’d like to partner with various campus constituents to understand the root causes for some of those concerns and then make strategic decisions that will help to improve the campus climate,” Akunvabey said.

Akunvabey will begin her role as VPEI-CDO at RWU on July 6.