Clarke named first Diversity and Inclusion VP


Dr. Shari Clarrke

By Mandy Nicole, Contributing Writer

Surrounded by unpacked boxes, Dr Shari Clarke, EWU’s new vice president  for Diversity and Inclusion, makes all who enter her office feel welcome.

Clarke’s office is in transition, a distinct metaphor for its new occupant. Clarke stepped into the brand-new position on Aug. 2, and hasn’t stopped running since.

“It’s been a very busy eight weeks,” Clarke said with a smile, “I’m happy to be here.”

Clarke applied for the position after a student-led coalition demanded its creation.

“These students care deeply about diversity and representation on campus,” Clarke said. “The administration listened.” The same attitude that founded the role will fuel Clarke’s mission. “I am here to listen. I want to know the pulse of EWU,” Clarke said.

Clarke completed her undergraduate education at Lane College, her graduate studies at Bowling Green University (where she earned a MA in College Student Personnel) and her PhD in Educational Leadership and Higher Education at the University of Nebraska.

“I loved college,” Clarke said. “I never wanted to leave.”

When the conversation turned to her academic path, she lit up, ready to share her passion, and described her joy at discovering a major built around college administration.

“I thought, ‘you can major in this?’ I was so happy,” said Clarke.

To call Clarke an award-winning school administrator is an understatement. She was recognized for Excellence in Diversity by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission in 2011, during her time as vice president for Multicultural affairs at Marshall University. The award is only one of a long list of accolades.

Clarke began working in student affairs in 1992, and has held positions at a number of universities.

Most recently, she served as Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at  Ohio University. Her extensive resume fits the mission of EWU well: to become a voice for diversity and inclusion in the world of higher education.

“We want Eastern to be an example for other colleges, not just through a diverse student population, but through diversity in administration,” Clarke said. “One of our goals is to be a Hispanic-serving institution. We want to lead the way on diversity.”

Program Coordinator for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Courtney Anderson said she was excited about Clarke’s goals. Anderson said they were in line with those in her department.

“The addition of Dr. Clarke, both to the administration and to our suite, has brought increased visibility to our department,” Anderson said.

One big step to this ambitious goal is to introduce diverse perspectives into students’ daily lives.

“We want to appoint diversity and leadership ambassadors – students who will build intentional relationships on campus to promote diversity,” Clarke said. The individual’s story is paramount to this program. “There is power in the narrative.”

And above all, Clarke says, she believes in the power of education.

“Education is pivotal to success,” she said, drawing a direct line between her own academic path and her goals for EWU. “Education is the salvation.”

Students can meet Dr. Clarke for a Sit ‘n Chat on Oct. 12, Oct. 26, Nov. 9, and Nov. 16 in Showalter 300.