Voices from the Academy episode features Rider University Chief Diversity Officer
Barbara J. Lawrence

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2022 – AGB Search, a national leader in higher education executive search, examines the challenges and successes of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at colleges and universities with the newest installment of its video series Voices from the Academy. The series features higher education leaders who are meeting today’s challenges head-on. AGB Search Principal Kim Bobby spoke with Barbara J. Lawrence, Rider University's first Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer, about what it takes for institutions to successfully implement and cultivate DEI principles.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts have taken on a renewed importance on campuses in the last two years. Some institutions made the commitment for the first time to engage highly experienced chief diversity officers on their campuses. Whether establishing a new CDO role or expanding a DEI office, the keys to success include ensuring it’s an institution-wide effort with support from top leadership.

“DEI is everyone’s work,” says Lawrence. “It’s important for leaders to say, ‘We all are responsible for how we engage in DEI work’ in these institutions.”

Colleges and universities should have a diversity, equity and inclusion strategic agenda and a clear indication in their strategic plans that DEI is key to their work. Institutions also need to ensure they have the capacity to do the work – both staffing and resources. “It’s all connected: a staff that provides administrative support, data analysis, connections to the faculty and leadership, and operating budgets that allow them to move forward with the work.”

The child of activists growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Lawrence has been immersed in diversity, equity, and inclusion virtually her entire life. From the directorship of a community outreach center, to guiding sensitivity trainings for the NYPD, to emerging into academia through her pursuit of a criminal justice degree, Lawrence has had a passion for DEI work and encourages networking among DEI professionals to provide support and compare progress in an important field.

“It’s a privilege to continue this work that a lot of my ancestors have done,” she says.

Watch the full conversation and learn more about the Voices from the Academy series here.


About AGB Search

AGB Search, based in Washington, D.C., specializes in providing tailored services, including permanent search, interim search, and compensation evaluation, to higher education institutions. Founded by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) in 2010, the firm has a unique understanding of the qualifications critical for effective higher education leadership. The firm has conducted more than 1,000 searches at institutions ranging from small, private colleges to large public institutions and research universities.