Raising the Bar on Diversity

Jul 28, 2011 by



Part two of three-part series

Dr. Lawrence T. Potter, Allegheny College’s first chief diversity officer, comes from a family that is committed to higher education. As a third generation college graduate, he has mixed his education between Stillman, a historically Black college in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he earned bachelor’s degrees in English, philosophy and religion and then the University of Missouri—Columbia, where he earned a master’s degree and doctorate in English. He also taught in China as a Fulbright scholar.

During his 15 years in higher education, Potter has worked as both a professor and administrator. At the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., he served as executive director of institutional diversity and chief diversity officer as well as McNair Scholars Program director. He also received the William Malevich Faculty Leadership Award. In 2008, the St. Paul Foundation awarded him the Facing Race Ambassador Award for his anti-racism work in the Twin Cities.

Among his many accomplishments, Potter was selected as a 2009-2010 American Council on Education fellow. He spent a year at DePaul University in Chicago, an institution that the Princeton Review has ranked as one of the 20 most diverse student populations for six consecutive years.

DePaul’s president, the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, described Potter as a quiet and thoughtful presence, someone who takes the measure of the landscape around him.

“First and foremost, he’s a scholar with a very personal commitment to academic quality. A true contributing scholar, he must have three more books in him waiting to be written. And, he has a gift for knowing how to set goals and figure out how to get from here to there,” says the Rev. Holtschneider.

Potter has presented more than 60 papers and speeches and has published in scholarly journals and books on such authors as Wallace Thurman, James Baldwin, Essex Hemphill, and E. Lynn Harris. His research concentrates on the relationship between culture and communication as played out in a number of contexts.

“Intellectually, I’m excited that he’s here. And, the conversation has to start; otherwise, nothing is going to change. It will be uncomfortable for a time,” says Vika Gardner, assistant professor of Islamic Studies.

via Raising the Bar on Diversity.

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