Dr. Linda Strong-Leek has been appointed Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Berea College. She will begin these new responsibilities on July 1, 2015.
Lyle Roelofs, Berea College President, said “Linda brings impressive skills of leadership, scholarship, and advocacy to a role that is new for the College.” Roelofs stated that the creation of this new position and its inclusion as part of the Administrative Committee, was approved by the Board of Trustees following the recommendation of a committee which had been reviewing one of the College’s Great Commitments, which focuses on asserting “. . . the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites.”
“The history of Berea College as the first interracial, coeducational college in the South speaks to the radically inclusive vision of our founder, Reverend John G. Fee,” Dr. Strong-Leek says. “To affirm and continue this work, as the first Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, I call upon our beloved Berea community to recommit to Fee’s radical notion of inclusivity and meaningful diversity.”
The responsibilities of this new position within the College Administration include: membership on the Administrative Committee, oversight of the Title VII/IX Office and Coordinator, collaborating in hiring processes to achieve greater diversity within the work force, and other initiatives to support diversity, inclusivity, and the full realizations of the interracial and coeducational aspects of the Great Commitments of Berea College. Dr. Strong-Leek will also continue her responsibilities as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, which she assumed in 2012.
Dr. Strong-Leek was employed by Berea College in 2002 to take an appointment in Women’s and Gender Studies and General Studies. “Her work in there and in African and African American Studies, in particular, provide a strong foundation for the position of Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion,” President Roelofs continued.
Before being appointed Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Strong-Leek was the first chair of the Division VI, the division which includes the academic programs in African and African American Studies, Appalachian Studies, Education Studies, Peace and Social Justice Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. She also served as the Program Chair for African and African American Studies.
Prior to joining the faculty at Berea College, Dr. Strong-Leek taught at Florida International University in Miami. She has published articles on African writers, including Chinua Achebe, Flora Nwapa, and Ngugi wa Thongo. She is the author of “Excising the Spirit: A Literary Analysis of Female Circumcision” (2009). Her current research project, which being considered for publication by the University of Mississippi Press, explores the Mami Wata figure in the novels of contemporary Caribbean Women Writers. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Zimbabwe.