Keisha Love named Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Academic Inclusion
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Early on, Keisha Love’s, PhD, passion and interests within higher education focused on diversity and inclusion. She began her career as a full-time faculty member at the University of Kentucky. Her research focused on the protective factors, from a psychological perspective, that contributed to the well-being of Black and Brown students attending predominately white schools.
“I looked at how we psychologically take care of underrepresented students when we know they are going to experience microaggressions,” says Love. “In particular, I studied what we need to do to equip students to be successful despite these unfortunate experiences they are having.”
Love says her research helped inform her teaching so that it was always conducted through a diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) lens. Her work eventually transitioned from the student experience to the faculty experience. She began to look at women of color in leadership positions, and the correlating promotion and tenure rates, which then turned the focus of her work toward the professional development of faculty.
We must create communities of inclusion that allow faculty, staff and students to feel they matter as individuals and as members of the varied communities with which they identify. To create a culture in which they can flourish, diversity, equity and inclusion must be infused into our work and academic mission.
Valerio Ferme Executive Vice President and Provost
Love, who is coming up on her fifth academic year at UC, says her new role as vice provost for faculty advancement and academic inclusion brings her research, teaching and professional development work together in an informed way.
“I see investment in faculty as a lifelong commitment. If we bring someone here, it is our intent to see that person thrive; therefore, we need to support them throughout their career lifespan,” says Love. “That means giving them the tools and resources needed to grow professionally, including leadership skills, so they can advance through the promotion and tenure process and be effective leaders either in the classroom, laboratory or in our community.”
Creating the role of vice provost for faculty advancement and inclusion was a priority for Provost Valerio Ferme who took over as chief academic officer for the University of Cincinnati in August 2021.
Like Love, Ferme has dedicated his career to creating academic advancement opportunities for faculty, staff and students from traditionally underserved communities.
“We must create communities of inclusion that allow faculty, staff and students to feel they matter as individuals and as members of the varied communities with which they identify,” says Ferme. “To create a culture in which they can flourish, diversity, equity and inclusion must be infused into our work and academic mission.”
Ferme adds that Love’s academic experiences and strong commitment to increasing under-represented faculty while fostering an inclusive campus culture will help carry UC’s and the Office of the Provost’s DE&I work forward.
“Keisha understands the additional barriers some faculty, staff and students face,” adds Ferme.
Both Ferme and Love believe DE&I must flow through the education and professional development of faculty, which is also a primary focus of Love’s new role.
“A large part of my work will involve taking the DE&I priorities of the Office of the Provost and aligning them with the four pillars of DE&I (accountability, agency, sense of belonging, and cultural competence) established by Bleuzette Marshall, vice president for equity, inclusion and community impact and then filtering the work through the colleges to ensure we have a comprehensive plan.”
A portion of the university’s DE&I work is realized through the programming and resources offered by the Faculty Enrichment Center, which Love spearheaded the development of and now leads in collaboration with the center’s Executive Director, Rita Kumar and her team. The Faculty Enrichment Center, an outcome of UC’s Next Lives Here strategic plan, opened in September 2019.
“As the needs of our students evolve, we constantly have to assess whether or not we are providing the right tools to have cross-cultural conversations,” adds Love. “And importantly, we all have to work together, in the same direction, to move forward.”
Love joined UC in 2017 as associate provost for faculty development and special initiatives. She led the Office of the Provost’s Cluster Hiring Initiative and directed faculty recruitment and retention efforts, including the Dual Career Assistance Program and the Strategic Hiring Opportunity Initiatives.
From 2017 to 2014 Love served as chair of the Department of Psychological Science at Kennesaw State University and served in a similar capacity in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology at the University of Kentucky (UK) from 2012 to 2014, where she began as a faculty member in 2005. In 2011, she was acting Director of Graduate Studies in that same department at UK.
Featured image at top of Keisha Love/Lisa Ventre/UC Creative + Brand