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March 2021

Newly named VP CDO Sha Duncan Smith on campus

Newly named VP CDO Sha Duncan Smith on campus

T. Shá Duncan Smith Named First V.P. of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Santa Clara University

A proven strategist for change, T. Shá Duncan Smith will become SCU's first VP for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion July 1.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Mar. 17, 2021—Santa Clara University has selected T. Shá Duncan Smith, a highly experienced diversity educator and leader, to guide and shape the University’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, including its campus culture, programming initiatives, and recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty, and staff.

Duncan Smith, currently Swarthmore College’s assistant vice president and dean of inclusive excellence and community development, will become Santa Clara University’s first vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion and chief diversity officer on July 1.

“We look forward to welcoming Shá Duncan Smith to Santa Clara University, to lead and help us shape the future of diversity, equity and inclusion across our campuses,” said SCU President Kevin O’Brien, S.J. “She is a proven strategist for change, having built strong relationships, programs and initiatives promoting intercultural, inclusive, and supportive environments for diverse constituents in her previous positions. She brings the ideal combination of tested experience and charismatic leadership to Santa Clara at this important moment in our history. Under her leadership, we will come closer to fulfilling our potential as a community of welcome and belonging for all.”

The position of vice president for DEI at SCU was created following the recommendations of the University's Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inclusion (2016), the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion (2017) and the Campus Climate Survey Report (2018).

Duncan Smith will provide vision, leadership, and direction for Santa Clara’s current and future equity initiatives, to advance and deepen the University's commitment to become an anti-racist institution. She will focus and develop recruitment and retention programs to increase diversity of faculty, staff, and students at the graduate and undergraduate level; be the University’s ambassador for DEI on campus and beyond; and create a culture of continuous improvement and accountability through planning and assessment of such initiatives.

“I am excited to join Santa Clara University at this important time in its growth as an institution,” said Duncan Smith. “I look forward to working with leaders across the university to serve as a thought, strategy, and action partner in these important areas. My experience has taught me that when there is a will for change, it is possible to become a community where people have a stronger sense of belonging and can thrive.”

Duncan Smith has over 18 years of experience developing and implementing strategic plans and initiatives to promote diverse, equitable and inclusive cultures for students, faculty and staff. At Swarthmore, she partnered with human resources to create affinity employee resource groups to increase retention; integrated intergroup dialogue curriculum into residential peer leadership training; and worked with the Office of Sustainability to create and promote inclusive sustainability and environmental justice initiatives. She has been the campus co-lead in the Tri-College and Bi-College Summer Social Justice Institute (with Haverford and Bryn Mawr College) and designed intercultural trainings, dialogues, and workshops for students, faculty, and staff.

She has taught courses on leading during racial crisis and accountability and incentivization for advancing equity goals at the University of Southern California Race & Equity Center Equity Institutes, where she is also senior strategist for their Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance. She taught global intercultural experience for undergraduates at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts.

She was previously director of diversity and inclusion at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and before that was intercultural programs manager for the University of Michigan’s Center for Global and Intercultural Study and coordinator of diversity initiatives and academic support for the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. She has presented at numerous association conferences on the topics of racial equity, diversity, equity and inclusion in education, and inclusive sustainability.

Duncan Smith founded, developed and restructured diversity, equity and inclusion offices at the University of Michigan and Swarthmore. She collaborated with the Black Cultural Center, Inclusive Excellence Fellows Program, First Generation and Low Income Office, International Students Center, Interfaith Center, Intercultural Center and Women’s Resource Center to develop the new Inclusive Excellence team structure at Swarthmore College.

Duncan Smith is completing her doctorate in higher education management at University of Pennsylvania. She holds both a master’s of social work and a bachelor of arts in sociology from University of Michigan.

She spent her formative years in Michigan and currently lives outside of Philadelphia. She will move to the Bay Area for the position with her husband Tony and four children.

About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | | 408-554-5121


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