Keona Lewis joins faculty from position at Georgia Tech
Keona Lewis joined Notre Dame as associate provost for academic diversity February 1. Notre Dame News announced the hire on January 5.
The announcement states that “Lewis will oversee the vision, strategy and community-building programs for academic diversity and inclusion,” noting that she “will also hold an appointment as assistant professor of the practice in Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns.”
Lewis joins Notre Dame from her previous position at Georgia Tech as associate director for Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (IDEI) Research and Evaluation. According to the IDEI website, “Her current research interests include ethnicity and education, with specific concentration on African American identity construction and academic and professional aspirations.”
Another bio on the Georgia Tech IDEI website from 2017 states that Lewis “holds a master’s degree in criminology and Ph.D. in applied anthropology focusing on the social construction of race and its effects on both education and crime.”
At that time, her research interests included “ethnicity, education, and the school-to-prison pipeline with specific interest in African-American males’ identity construction and their academic and professional aspirations.”
During her time at Georgia Tech, IDEI hosted the university’s annual Black History Month lecture.
Lewis noted appreciation for two of these lectures in particular on her Instagram page: Angela Rye in 2018 and Andrew Gillum in 2020. In the latter post, she thanked Gillum for “Reminding us of our responsibility to lift as we rise and the importance of being present in our relationships so that we can influence and impact change and, of course, the importance of the vote!”
Gillum was the Democratic candidate for the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election, was defeated by Ron DeSantis, and has since been indicted for wire fraud and conspiracy, amidst other scandal. He vocally supported unrestricted abortion and eliminating moral exemptions for companies that do not wish to provide contraceptives through their employees’ healthcare insurance, a right created through a lawsuit that Notre Dame joined in 2013.
When asked, in light of this, if anything will be done to assure that events and programs organized by Lewis will align with Catholic teaching, John T. McGreevy, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost, responded via email:
“Instead of responding to questions individually, I’ll just say the following: we hired Dr. Lewis after a national search and were impressed by her qualifications in a number of areas. She holds a PhD in anthropology, has worked closely with a wide variety of colleagues on DEI issues at Georgia Tech and seemed eager for a new challenge.”
He told the Rover further that the decision to hire an assistant provost for faculty diversity had strong support from the university faculty, and “so too has there been support from the Board of Trustees in their recent diversity task force report as well as from Vice President Hugh Page’s office.”
His comments concluded, “I think everyone looks forward to working with Dr. Lewis as we push forward in the effort to make Notre Dame a more inclusive and welcoming community.”
McGreevy did note in the official Notre Dame announcement, “[Lewis] will make a great addition to our office and the campus community as she helps ensure that the academic core is an environment where faculty and staff feel a strong sense of belonging and respect and where differences are celebrated.”
The Notre Dame News announcement gave some suggestion as to what Lewis’ tasks will include. It states, “In her current role at Georgia Tech, Lewis has played a lead role in developing, supporting and evaluating programs for faculty, staff and students. She also has established an impressive record of leading training programs on a variety of topics, including assessing conscious and unconscious biases and microaggressions.”
Such training programs either do not currently exist or are not mandated for faculty, two Notre Dame professors confirmed for the Rover.
“I have pursued a career in diversity, equity and inclusion with the hopes of making a difference in the lives of those around me,” Lewis said in her hiring announcement. “Education is the great equalizer, however, all too often, access acts as a barrier to opportunity and growth. Throughout my professional career, I have had many opportunities to help level the playing field, and I am excited to continue this work at the University of Notre Dame.”
Lewis could not be reached for comment for this piece.
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Photo Credit: Notre Dame News