Clyburn Joins Colby as Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Announcements4 MIN READ
By Kardelen Koldas '15
June 23, 2020

Tayo Clyburn, presently vice president of inclusive diversity and equity and chief diversity officer at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, has been named dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion for Colby. He comes to Mayflower Hill with extensive experience in diversity and inclusion in higher education.

At Colby Clyburn will lead and oversee campus-wide initiatives supporting Colby’s ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. He’ll work across departments, including the Office of the Dean of the College and the Office of the Provost, shaping policies and practices to ensure a more inclusive, equitable, and welcoming community.

“Colby is in the space of thinking about what are the innovative practices in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Clyburn, who has been engaged in diversity, equity, and inclusion work for more than 15 years. “[Colby] has taken up those practices across all sectors of the institution—in athletics, advancement, admissions, in the faculty space, and in the student-services space—that’s the ideal integrated model for diversity and inclusion. That’s the model that I believe in, that’s the way I approach doing the work.”  

In his role at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Clyburn has provided leadership, consultation, and assistance to various constituencies at the college, supporting actions that foster greater diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accountability. He also assisted in recruiting and retaining faculty, staff, and students from historically underrepresented groups as well as in providing environments where every community could thrive.

Prior to that, he served at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at The Ohio State University, which he joined in 2010 while he was still a Ph.D. candidate. In his last role as executive director for mission and strategic partnerships, he led strategic initiatives and special projects, developed relationships with campus partners, and addressed university-wide issues.

“I’ve always desired to have an impact and to do this work well,” Clyburn said. “Colby is poised to have an impact on higher education and on the world in general. That’s what I see, being able to be a part of the team that’s moving that conversation, moving the institution to be a leader in these areas.”

Dean of the College Karlene Burrell-McRae ’94 said, “Tayo is really gifted at thinking about each person’s role and responsibility in creating an equitable and anti-racist community. I think Tayo comes with a spirit of openness, of optimism, and has the ability to ask critical questions to be able to move us to where we aspire to be.” 

Clyburn holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University’s English Department, where he specialized in 20th- and 21st-century African-American literature as well as critical race theory. His dissertation explored the ways African-American writers portray the impact of colorblind/post-racial discourse on the lives of Black people.

“Tayo comes to us as a scholarly practitioner who is very student-centric, student-focused. He has the right ingredients to build strong relationships with faculty, staff, and students to make a difference and advance our collective work,” said Burrell-McRae. “Having someone whose entire role is dedicated to thinking with us, bringing different stakeholders into the fold to think about diversity, equity, and inclusion and what it will take to create an anti-racist community is really exciting.”

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Eric Aaron, a member of the search committee, was impressed with Clyburn’s communication skills, commitment to issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and wealth of experience. “Like other Colby faculty members, I want to do all I can to provide a sense of belonging for our students,” said Aaron. “Tayo will do a great job of providing institutional support for that.” 

Students on the committee echoed similar sentiments.

“I am extremely excited for Tayo Clyburn to come to Colby,” said Deekayla Thomas ’23. “He has the motivation and experience that will aid Colby in moving forward and expanding on the work that has already been started.”

In addition to Aaron and Thomas, the search committee included Eniola Adeoye-Lawal ’23, Alex Heisler ’21, Tiger Nguyen ’23, Associate Professor of Anthropology and African-American Studies Chandra Bhimull, Associate Director for Talent Development Melissa Breger, Dean of the College Karlene Burrell-McRae, Lawry Family Director of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships Elizabeth Jabar, Interim Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion JJ Jackson, and Vice President for Enrollment and Communications and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Matt Proto.   

Clyburn will begin his work at Colby August 26.