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Robin Means Coleman to step down from Northwestern roles

Coleman has served as the University’s vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, chief diversity officer and professor since 2021

Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Robin R. Means Coleman will step down from her administrative and faculty roles at Northwestern on Jan. 1, 2024, to focus on her health and family, she announced today. She will continue to serve as a consultant through July 2024 before leaving the University.

Robin Means Coleman
Robin Means Coleman

Coleman, who joined Northwestern in February 2021, also serves as Northwestern’s chief diversity officer and the Ida B. Wells and Ferdinand Barnett Professor in Communication Studies in the School of Communication. She has overseen many key initiatives within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI), strengthening partnerships across the University.

“While I am sad to be leaving, I couldn’t be prouder of the impactful work of OIDI,” Coleman said. “Units such as Native American and Indigenous Affairs and the Women’s Center are jewels in OIDI’s and Northwestern’s crowns. So, too, are key efforts such as the Gender Inclusive Initiatives, the Mediation, Conflict Resolution and Restorative Practices Initiative and the IDEA Scholars program.”

Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Michelle Manno will serve as OIDI’s interim leader after Coleman’s departure.

“We are grateful for Robin’s many contributions to the Northwestern community and for her unwavering support for our students, faculty and staff through ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts,” President Michael Schill said. “Robin has done a tremendous job leading the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and I appreciate that she will continue to serve as a consultant to the University after she officially leaves in January.”

Under Coleman’s leadership, OIDI spearheaded the University’s application for the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, a recognition Northwestern earned for the first time in 2021 and repeated in 2022 and 2023. The award annually recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“Robin is an outstanding academic and a determined advocate for equality and inclusion who inspires the best from those around her,” Provost Kathleen Hagerty said. “We wish Robin well as she focuses on her health and family. She will always be an important member of the Northwestern family.”

Coleman came to Northwestern from Texas A&M University, where she served as vice president and associate provost and a professor in the Department of Communication. She also is the world’s preeminent expert on Black representation in horror movies.