The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Ernest Jeffries named as inaugural vice president for inclusion

Ernest Jeffries has seen through diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at three different universities. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette Communications)

After a nationwide search, Ernest Jeffries has been named as Lafayette’s first-ever vice president for inclusion. He will step into the role on Jan. 1.

“I’m at this particular point in my career where I need to see some change and some difference,” Jeffries said. “I really feel that this is an opportunity for me to see and experience all of that.”

Jeffries, who currently serves as vice president for student engagement at Mary Baldwin University, comes to Lafayette after a 30-plus-year career in higher education. His first role in diversity, equity and inclusion work took him to Western Carolina University in 1993 where he served as director of minority affairs.

He then began a 22-year tenure at Davidson College, cycling through many roles at the institution, including director of multicultural affairs and assistant and associate dean of student life. He was instrumental in the college receiving the Mellon Foundation grant that funded the STRIDE program, which Jeffries described as the “flagship retention program for students of color on the campus.”

“All of this happened during a time when the institution was really trying to turn the page and become more diverse,” he said.

Jeffries then saw Mary Baldwin through the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement which changed the dynamic of his work drastically.

He co-founded the Coalition of Racial and Social Justice at the university, created to “look at the institution and see where the holes are, where are the things that we needed to address on that larger scale.”

“It was my brainchild that I brought to the president during the George Floyd incidents,” Jeffries said.

He said that one of the initial projects of the group was to survey buildings on campus for association with people believed to have perpetrated oppression. Its members also examined the curriculum and hiring processes, all of which were integrated into a report with 33 recommendations for the university. According to Jeffries, several of these recommendations have already been implemented.

To Jeffries, the Lafayette community felt sincere in its attempts to create meaningful dialogue about inclusion and implement real changes.

“I got a sense that Lafayette was genuine about making a difference for its campus,” Jeffries said of his recent campus visit. “I read more about the direction [Lafayette is] trying to go, looking at how you’re putting together the strategic plan, and that [inclusivity] was one of the pillars. That motivated me … because I feel that when an institution is really serious about this, and puts the resources behind this, it can start a movement.”

Jeffries applied for the role because he felt it would offer him the chance to make a tangible difference in the community. He plans to quickly get to work when he arrives on campus in January.

“I do understand as I come into this role [that] I’m gonna have to do a very, very quick job of learning Lafayette and I think that’s very important,” Jeffries said. “I’ve got to have a lot of conversations with students, staff, faculty, alumni, even people in the area around Lafayette.”

Members of the search committee for the position expressed excitement at the announcement of Jeffries’ hiring.

“[Jeffries] seemed, as one member put it, to be the most likely to … hit the ground running and deliver some things that this campus would like to see pretty quickly,” music department head Jorge Torres said.

College President Nicole Hurd echoed this sentiment.

“Dr. Jeffries has experience at institutions similar to Lafayette, so we felt very good about his ability to translate his prior experiences to our campus,” Hurd said. “He’s done a lot of building in this space. I’m really excited to have somebody that can take the foundations that many of us over the years have tried to build at Lafayette and then take it to the next level in terms of making sure that faculty, staff, students and alums are feeling like we’re really committing [to inclusivity].”

Andreas Pelekis ’26 contributed reporting. 

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About the Contributor
Madeline Marriott
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. As the Editor-in-Chief, a Mentor Writing Associate, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, co-founder and Vice President of English Club, and a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, no writing happens on campus without her knowing about it. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, a builder of a Hay Day empire, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. She smokes cigars and uses an old-timey typewriter and notepad in the newsroom.

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