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New Director for Center for Diversity and Inclusion Announced

August 18, 2014 - Niya Blair will join the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services as the director for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion effective August 20, 2014. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion is a new department at the University of Houston that responds to the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services strategic initiative to “foster the creation of a global learning community that actualizes and embraces inclusion while preparing students to become active citizens.”

Niya brings more than nine years of experience in student affairs and diversity education work to the position. Currently, she serves as the director of the Multicultural Center at Arkansas State University.  As the director, Niya provided leadership in advancing the vision and knowledge of diversity education for Arkansas State students; taught the diversity section of Making Connections (First Year Experience) classes; actively mentored, supported, and developed underrepresented students and student organizations (Hispanic Outreach and Latin Appreciation, Gay Straight Alliance, Black Student Association, Muslim Student Association, International Student Association, MC Ambassadors, etc.); developed and coordinated educational and cultural programs that promote multicultural awareness and social justice; served as a resource person for the campus and community regarding diversity affairs; and organized traveling art exhibits working with artist across the country.  Prior to her work at Arkansas State, Niya served as the coordinator for Multicultural Services at Louisiana State University and as a graduate assistant in Multicultural Services at the University of Arkansas.

Niya has a Master of Education in Higher Education from the University of Arkansas, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Arkansas.  She has served on the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence.  She is also an active member of NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE), the Association for Non-traditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE), the March of Dimes Executive Committee for Northeast Arkansas March for Babies, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

“Diversity is one of the Division’s core values. With the creation of this department [or center], we now have a dedicated area to support the existing diversity as well as expand on the intentional efforts to guide a culture of inclusion at the University of Houston,” said Dr. Richard Walker, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, UH System, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, UH.

As the first director for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Niya will provide leadership, strategic vision, organization and administrative oversight of campus-wide programs and services partnering with departments and student organizations in the areas of diversity and inclusion.  In addition, she will develop and support a department portfolio that includes educational programs, cultural competency training curriculum development, campus community events celebrating cultural diversity, social justice advocacy, student success support, and access to the rich cultural and artistic environment in Houston.  Niya’s ability to build collaborative partnerships with students, faculty, and staff in her work will enhance the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services contributions to supporting student success at the University of Houston.

"Niya brings a great vision and a proven track record in developing programs, services and partnerships related to the areas of diversity and inclusion for students and other stakeholders in the university environment."

“Niya brings a great vision and a proven track record in developing programs, services and partnerships related to the areas of diversity and inclusion for students and other stakeholders in the university environment.  Her background and experience from several other campuses will be invaluable as she builds the UH Center for Diversity and Inclusion, while bringing a student-centered approach to working with students and student organizations in their pursuit of student success.” said Keith T. Kowalka, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, UH.

Please join the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services in welcoming Niya to the University of Houston.