Addressing Racism Matters for Excellence

A Conversation with Three Rice University DEI Leaders

About this session

Three Rice University leaders discuss why excellence in higher education and all fields requires reckoning with and addressing racism, past and present. The presenters share examples of ongoing Rice University initiatives, drawing on their expertise leading campus-wide DEI efforts with students, faculty, staff and other community members. Presenters will also offer insights on fostering safe, welcoming, inclusive environments to learn, work, play, and live in and provide “provocations” to help individuals and institutions embrace diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism as sustained community-wide practices. The event includes conversation among the presenters and an audience Q&A.

This session is brought to you through a partnership with Rice Athletic's Owl In Task Force and Community Learning & Engagement at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. The Owl In Task Force is a group of student-athletes, coaches, and staff who come together to address Athletics’ efforts in education, policy, and action as it relates to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.

JP Abercrumbie, Rice University’s Associate Athletic Director for SOAR (“Student-athlete Opportunities for Advancement through Rice values”)
Richard Anthony Baker, Ph.D., Executive Director for Institutional Equity and EEO, University Title IX Coordinator at Rice University
Alexander X. Byrd, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Associate Professor of History at Rice University


Friday, Dec. 10, 2021
12:00 PM CT
Live Webinar
Rice University Leaders

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Presented By JP Abercrumbie, Richard Anthony Baker, Ph.D. & Alexander X. Byrd, Ph.D.

Julie Jenkins

JP Abercrumbie, Rice University’s Associate Athletic Director for SOAR (“Student-athlete Opportunities for Advancement through Rice values”), is responsible for developing and implementing the personal and professional growth programs available to Rice’s 350+ student-athletes. As Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for Rice Athletics, she oversees the design and implementation of Rice Athletics’ diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices, and assists with educational efforts related to Title IX/sexual violence prevention. Ms. Abercrumbie also serves as the Chair of the Owl In Task Force, and acts as the primary contact for national, local, and campus-level matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in athletics. Additionally, as a member of the Athletics senior staff, she holds supervisory responsibility for men’s cross country/track and field and fosters engagement with alumni athletes through the R Association. Ms. Abercrumbie arrived at South Main by way of Mississippi State University and the University of California, Berkeley. A former NCAA Division I student-athlete, Ms. Abercrumbie also serves on several national advisory boards, including as an Executive Board Member of the Black Sports Professionals Houston Chapter.

Richard A Baker

Richard Anthony Baker, Ph.D. is Executive Director for Institutional Equity and EEO, University Title IX Coordinator at Rice University. Dr. Baker is responsible for assessing the University’s diversity management effectiveness in recruitment and retention of diverse personnel and overseeing the University’s anti-discrimination initiatives, including authoring and enforcing policies, procedures, practices, and other institutional strategies aimed at eliminating disparate treatment and impact on its community. In addition to providing high-level strategic guidance on equal opportunity matters, Dr. Baker has conducted hundreds of formal investigations of individual complaints and systemic reviews of allegations of discrimination. To prevent these events from occurring, Dr. Baker has provided anti-discrimination training for thousands of employees and students and has presented on the topic of equal opportunity and Title IX at academic conferences throughout the country. Additionally, Dr. Baker is the President of the Board for the American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity (AAAED), which is the oldest operating national association serving equal opportunity professionals. Dr. Baker has the distinction of being the first African-American to obtain a doctorate of jurisprudence and graduate degrees in Public Administration (M.P.A.) and Higher Education (Ph.D.) from Texas Tech University.

Alex Byrd

Alexander X. Byrd, Ph.D., is Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Associate Professor of History at Rice University. Dr. Byrd was appointed Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in July 2020. In that role, he provides high-level strategic leadership for diversity initiatives and coordinates offices across the campus to help create one point of responsibility for all programs and efforts around diversity. Byrd also is an associate professor of history. His area of expertise is Afro America, especially black life in the Atlantic world and the Jim Crow South. Byrd has published essays addressing the social consequences of violence in the transatlantic slave trade, teaching the history of lynching, and practicalities of civic engagement in African American studies research. Byrd’s current projects include an edited volume exploring the consequence of race and place in Houston in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and a study of race and equity in the public schools of Houston since Brown v. Board. Byrd is a four-time recipient of the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching (2006, 2013, 2015, and 2018) and in 2010 he was the recipient of the Presidential Mentoring Award.

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