Project Description

CarterBaldwin Executive Search is pleased to share that Dr. J. Goosby Smith has been named the inaugural Vice President for Community Belonging and Chief Diversity Officer at Pepperdine University. Dr. April Harris Akinloye will join Smith as Assistant Vice President for Community Belonging.

The selection of a vice president for community belonging and chief diversity officer is one in a series of initiatives the University has been implementing to build and model a diverse, informed, loving, and unified community at Pepperdine. What began as a national search to identify a chief diversity officer expanded into the creation of two roles.

“I made it clear that hiring a chief diversity officer would be among my top priorities,” said Pepperdine President Jim Gash. “Though we began our national search for a chief diversity officer, after getting to know these two extraordinarily qualified leaders, each of whom has a deep love for Pepperdine and our mission, we decided to hire a team—and what a team it is! Drs. Smith and Harris Akinloye will be a venerable force to help lead Pepperdine to a new level of inclusion, excellence, and genuine belonging, befitting the Pepperdine community’s unwavering commitment to radical Christian hospitality.”

Smith joins Pepperdine from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where she currently serves as associate professor of leadership, associate professor of management, assistant provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and director of the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Center. She previously served as an assistant professor of organizational behavior in Pepperdine’s  Frank R. Seaver College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences from 2002 to 2006, and then as a tenured associate professor of organizational behavior from 2011 to 2015. She has also served as assessment coordinator for the Seaver Diversity Council and as an adjunct professor in Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School’s MBA program.

In her new role, Smith will report directly to President Gash, serve as a member of the University’s Steering Team, and be a principal leader on the University Diversity Council for which she previously served as inaugural faculty co-chair in 2005.

Smith received her BS in computer science from Spelman College and her MBA and PhD in organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve University. She anticipates earning her MDiv from Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia in December 2021.

Harris Akinloye joins Pepperdine from Social Good Solutions, where she serves as senior consultant for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She previously served as the chief diversity officer at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California.

Harris Akinloye is a double alumna of Pepperdine, receiving her BA in speech communication and religious studies from Seaver College and her MA in education from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. She earned her PhD in education with a focus on cultural perspectives from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To read Pepperdine’s full press release, please click here.