Reginald Chhen Stewart, Ph.D., an unwavering advocate for access and opportunity in higher education, has been named Chapman’s first vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). As part of President Daniele C. Struppa’s senior team, Stewart will work to elevate Chapman’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and belonging. He began his new role on July 29, 2021, and reports directly to the provost.
Of the appointment of Stewart, Struppa said, “Reg is an exceptionally accomplished leader who I believe will have an immeasurable impact at Chapman. He joins us at a critical time as we work to elevate and advance our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and continue to improve the experience for our students, faculty and staff.”
Stewart joins Chapman after serving as vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Iowa State University. Prior to Iowa State, he held a similar role at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“Installing the senior diversity officer role in higher education takes both patience and persistence,” said Stewart. “This will be the third university where I have led such an effort, and I am thankful Chapman has a strong leadership team in place to move from aspiration to actualization.”
Stewart’s experience leading diversity and inclusion efforts is wide-ranging. Over the past three decades, he has provided support and leadership for a broad spectrum of DEI initiatives, having worked at both public and private institutions with student enrollments ranging from 650 to more than 36,000.
He brings that same expertise and passion to Chapman, as he leads the university’s development of a strategic vision for diversity, equity and inclusion.
“In my initial days on campus, I have met with some truly dedicated professionals eager to advance the Chapman DEI footprint,” said Stewart. “The first order of business for me has been to seek to understand our current capacity before introducing strategic enhancement and innovation ideas. I want our students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees to be proud of this work because this is not about checking boxes, or some performative display of care. To be a leading university, Chapman must excel in this area.”
During his distinguished career, Stewart has received recognition from the U.S. Department of Education, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the College Board, Excelencia in Education, the NAACP, the Nevada System of Higher Education and the Ames (Iowa) Chamber of Commerce. His TEDx Talk, “Cultural (il)Literacy: What Modern America Needs to Know,” is widely used as a teaching tool in both corporate and educational settings. In 2019, Stewart was recognized with the Ames Humanitarian Award.
“If you’re not strong in DEI, your organization becomes obsolete,” said Stewart. “Does the senior DEI officer fix racism in America? No. But we work to look at how Chapman’s history and policy affects procedures and impacts populations. The aim is to make DEI a central part of every conversation at Chapman.”