Sonya Smith named to NU diversity post
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken today announced the appointment of Sonya Smith, Ed.D., J.D., of Antioch, TN, as associate to the president and assistant vice president of academic affairs for diversity. Smith, director of agency services for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, previously served as associate dean of admissions at Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville.

Smith will provide leadership for diversity initiatives for the University of Nebraska. Milliken said, "Dr. Smith has excellent, relevant experience at a number of institutions, and we are fortunate to have been able to attract her to the University of Nebraska." Responsibilities for the position have been expanded, Milliken said, to include a greater emphasis on recruiting and retaining diverse students, faculty and staff. Smith will also work with university-wide committees to address issues of diversity and equity, and will identify strategies to strengthen accountability to equity and diversity throughout the university.

"I look forward to joining the University of Nebraska community," Smith said. "I am excited about President Milliken\'s vision and his commitment to serving all constituencies throughout the state. Building on partnerships with education, businesses, and governmental officials, I believe that we have the opportunity to strengthen equity and diversity for all Nebraskans."

Smith earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, and both a doctorate of education and a law degree from Vanderbilt. For two consecutive years during her tenure at Vanderbilt, the Law School enrolled more women and minorities than in the school's history, while at the same time improving academically. Kent Syverud, dean of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and former dean of Vanderbilt Law, said, "Dean Smith is an accomplished and innovative recruiter of students, faculty, and staff who accomplished wonders at Vanderbilt University. She is also a talented teacher and scholar of higher education law."

At the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Smith's duties include implementing a new $40 million grant designed to promote college access for under-represented groups and working with an organization that is similar to Nebraska's P-16 (pre-school through college) initiative. "Ensuring affordable access to higher education is the university's top priority," Milliken said. "Dr. Smith's experience and interest in these areas will be of significant benefit to Nebraska."

Smith will assume her duties April 24.

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