College Names Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Lauren Gaines McKenzie was appointed the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for the College of Communication Arts and Sciences in November. 

Working directly with the dean and college leadership, Gaines McKenzie will develop college-wide initiatives focused on improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the college community. She looks forward to continuing her work with the ComArtSci DEI Committee, and providing more opportunities to engage in, and advance dialogue between faculty, staff, and students. 

“Lauren has served as a strong advocate for DEI in our college and brings excellent qualifications and leadership to this position,” said Prabu David, Dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. 

At Michigan State University, Gaines McKenzie has worked in the Office of Academic & Student Affairs for 12 years. She has served as the Coordinator for Diversity & Multicultural Initiatives, while also working as the Lead Advisor for students in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations. Gaines McKenzie has been an active member of ComArtSci’s DEI Committee, which she now leads as chair. 

Gaines McKenzie will now lead the committee and work closely with a Sustained Dialogue program launched earlier this year. The program is a five-stage process for social change that helps individuals engage in effective communication by building relationships. Members of the Sustained Dialogue at ComArtSci strive to transform relationships around topics such as race, class, gender, faith, sexual orientation and more, while simultaneously addressing pressing needs in the community.  

“I believe that in order to thrive in any environment, it is important to feel safe and supported. There must be trust, respect, and room for growth,” said Gaines McKenzie. “I want to learn more about how we can better nurture that kind of environment in ComArtSci, and start to work on getting there.” 

Gaines McKenzie is also pursuing a doctoral degree at MSU’s College of Education. She is a third-year student in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education Program (HALE), which is a dynamic community of scholars comprised of nationally and internationally recognized faculty and graduate students. In conjunction with the affiliated Center for Higher and Adult Education, HALE scholars work to address real-word problems in postsecondary education. 

Gaines McKenzie will assume her new role on Dec. 1, 2019.

By Melissa Priebe