BREAKING: Burwell announces new vice president of inclusive excellence and continuing acting provost
Vicky Wilkins to continue to serve as acting provost and Nkenge Friday as vice president of inclusive excellence
Vicky Wilkins and Nkenge Friday are taking new leadership roles as acting provost and vice president of inclusive excellence respectively, American University President Sylvia Burwell announced in an email to the community on Tuesday.
Longtime dean of the School of Public Affairs, Wilkins has also served as a faculty member in the School of Public Affairs and co-chair of the University Budget Committee. She became acting provost in summer 2023 following Peter Starr’s stepping down from the role and agreed to continue the role for two years.
Beyond academic programs, Wilkins has also spearheaded community engagement initiatives like Late-Night Breakfast, Thanksgiving Dinner, Pizza with Professors, Jumpstart and the Policy Hackathon in her role as dean.
“Vicky’s commitment to leading academic affairs for two years is a critical element of continuity during the upcoming presidential transition,” Burwell wrote in the email. “Vicky’s leadership and this timing will enable the next AU president to work with faculty members and others across our community on the collaborative search process that will identify the next permanent provost.”
Under Wilkins’ leadership, SPA became one of the top ten public affairs schools in the nation and saw a 58 percent increase in the school’s externally funded portfolio between 2019 and 2023, according to the email.
Friday takes on the role of vice president of inclusive excellence amidst on-campus growth at AU. Friday joins from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she served as the senior assistant vice chancellor for strategic initiatives.
At Nebraska-Lincoln, Friday inaugurated Nebraska-Lincoln’s annual diversity report and created the Inclusive Campus Support Network. Prior to her time at Nebraska-Lincoln, she was associate dean of students and director of diversity and inclusion at Marietta College and the director of multicultural student affairs and admissions at the School for International Training in D.C.
“The search committee worked tirelessly over the summer and early fall to engage a deep pool of talented candidates. I am excited to see how Nkenge brings her vision and energy to this critically important leadership role at AU,” said Roger Fairfax, dean of the Washington College of Law and chair of the vice president for inclusive excellence search committee.
Burwell asked the AU community to welcome Wilkins and Friday to their new positions and wrote that she looks forward to the new initiatives and guidance they will bring to AU through their respective positions. Wilkins and Friday, Burwell wrote, will guide the critical momentum in continuing AU’s commitment to its academic vision and inclusive excellence.
“The values that shape us as a community—among them knowledge, inclusion, and human dignity—have some of their greatest impact when they are a part of both our vision and our daily work,” Burwell wrote. “Leaders who partner with the community to carry our values and our university forward are vital to AU’s future.”
Correction: an earlier version of this article did not specify that Wilkins would be continuing in her role in the headline and the subheading. The article has been updated to reflect this.
This article was edited by Tyler Davis, Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.