Columbia College Chicago Appoints Matthew Shenoda as New Dean of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Photo: Phil Dembinski '08
First appointment of its kind at the college, new position will advance diversity, equity, and inclusion through curriculum development; cabinet-level position will also serve as special advisor to the president on college-wide policies

CHICAGO (Feb. 2, 2017)—Columbia College Chicago President Kwang-Wu Kim has appointed associate professor Matthew Shenoda as the Dean of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, a new position created to advance diversity within the college’s academic programs, hiring policies and overall learning environment. Shenoda will also serve as Special Advisor to the President, a new cabinet-level position, and will assume the role in June 2017.

“Matthew is a nationally recognized expert on the study of diversity, equity, and inclusion, both inside and outside of the classroom. He is a tremendous asset to the college, and we are fortunate to have such a uniquely qualified faculty member to fill this critical position,” said Kim. “The inevitable intersection of diversity and the arts in higher education prompted this new initiative, which will help define the future of our disciplines and the ways in which artists, performers and media makers influence society. Matthew’s demonstrated leadership will help us realize this important goal of the college’s Strategic Plan.”

The position of Dean of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion takes a fundamentally distinctive approach in higher education, differing from more traditional diversity officer roles, and challenging prevailing notions about institutional diversity. It focuses specifically on enhancing curriculum, curricular programming and faculty expertise to ensure they are diverse, equitable and inclusive, and allows the college to engage with faculty who have similar expertise. In addition, as Special Advisor to the President, Shenoda will serve as a member of the president’s cabinet, advising on campus-wide initiatives and policies that examine and challenge current structural barriers to diversity in curriculum.

“I am incredibly pleased to take on this new position in a most relevant moment and am heartened to see the unwavering support from our college leadership to further incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into our curriculum,” said Shenoda. “For too long, institutions of higher education, and arts centered curriculum in particular, have remained largely hegemonic. The opportunity to expand and diversify content, canonical and core perspectives of our disciplines, as well as our world views toward fundamentally transforming the educational experience of our students is deeply compelling to me.”

Initially conceived through the college’s Strategic Plan, which was approved in May 2015, Shenoda’s appointment ushers in a significant change at Columbia following more than a year of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee work, including a series of Undoing Racism trainings in partnership with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, and following previous curriculum work in the college’s dance department. The new position further advances the DEI Committee’s work, and will guide and develop institutional policies which employ diversity, equity, and inclusion in the college’s core curriculum, faculty recruitment and retention processes, including the development and revision of faculty position descriptions.

Shenoda will assess hiring procedures and appoint faculty members as diversity representatives on search committees, including a potential cohort (“cluster”) hire in Fall 2017 of four tenured and tenure-track faculty across the college. Additional faculty-based diversity initiatives will include trainings in inclusive pedagogies, visits by lecturers and artists, and collaborations with Student Affairs to encourage student engagement.

As he transitions into his new role, Shenoda will chair the DEI Committee on which he currently serves. Dean Onye Ozuzu, former chair who spearheaded the original formation of the committee, has completed her term and will continue to serve as a member of the committee.

As a long-time educator, Shenoda will continue to teach at the college. Since 2012, Shenoda has served in several capacities at Columbia, including as associate professor in the Creative Writing department, associate dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, interim chair of Creative Writing and interim chair of Art and Art History. Throughout his career, he has developed courses on the intersections of race, culture, and literature, focusing on representations of people of color in mainstream media, the processes of external and internal colonization and their effects on present-day racialization, and contemporary literature and creative writing from communities of color in the U.S. and around the world.

Prior to joining Columbia, Shenoda taught, conducted research and developed curriculum around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion for more than a dozen years. He served as the inaugural assistant provost for Equity and Diversity and faculty member in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts. He taught for nearly a decade at San Francisco State University in the first College of Ethnic Studies in the nation. He is an award-winning writer and author and editor of several books. He also serves as a founding editor of the African Poetry Book Fund, an organization that promotes and advances the development of contemporary African poetics. The Fund partners with the University of Nebraska Press to publish a book series devoted to making African poetry more accessible to American readers.

Shenoda earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and a BA in English and a Minor in Writing from Oregon State University, with a concentration in American Literature/Creative Writing.


Columbia College Chicago is a private, nonprofit college offering a distinctive curriculum that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts and business for more than 8,000 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dedicated to academic excellence and long-term career success, Columbia College Chicago creates a dynamic, challenging and collaborative space for students who experience the world through a creative lens. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:
Cara Birch, 312.369.8695,
Anjali Julka, 312.369.7016,


Cara Birch