Jenkins named Assistant Dean for DEI

Dear Basic Sciences Community,

We are pleased to announce that Felysha Jenkins, Ph.D., has accepted the position of Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Basic Sciences. Jenkins was hired as the Basic Sciences diversity, equity, and inclusion program manager starting in the late summer of 2021. In her role, she has focused on enhancing the commitment of the Basic Sciences community to fostering and maintaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment.

Felysha Jenkins, Ph.D.

Jenkins received an M.A. in experimental psychology from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. in community psychology from North Carolina State University. Jenkins is a trained facilitator with the National Coalition Building Institute, an international leadership organization that provides comprehensive, DEI-focused leadership training. She is also a graduate of the Equal Opportunity Institute at North Carolina State University, a certificate program that offers enhanced training focused on improving equity and diversity in workplaces and schools.

During her short time at Vanderbilt, Jenkins has already made a significant impact, including the following highlights:

  • Launching an annual Juneteenth symposium, “Juneteenth: A Freedom Celebration,” to inform our community about the history and meaning of the important date, which commemorates the legal end of chattel slavery in the U.S., and highlights the accomplishments of Black scientists both at Vanderbilt and across the country. The event includes awards that recognize Black scholarship, leadership, mentorship, service, and allyship at the local and national levels.
  • Planning and co-moderating the inaugural Hispanic Heritage Month Conference and Workshop, “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation,” to celebrate Hispanic and Latinx scientists. This event also includes awards designed to honor Latinx scientists at the local and national levels.
  • Piloting a Hidden Disabilities panel series in October 2022, which covered topics related to Autism and ADHD, diabetes and hypertension, mental illness, and long COVID.
  • Coordinating DEI committees across the four departments and associated institutes. Together, these committees are building a cohesive and expanding DEI program combining efforts, ideas, and talents across the different groups.

In her new role as assistant dean, Jenkins will be providing opportunities for our community to grow its understanding of DEI and its importance by creating and implementing a comprehensive strategic plan for DEI efforts across the school, its departments, and programs.

We are excited to recognize Felysha with this well-deserved promotion.

John Kuriyan
Dean, School of Medicine Basic Sciences

Chuck Sanders
Vice Dean of Basic Sciences


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