"Barbee Oakes" Archive

José Villalba appointed interim chief diversity officer

José Villalba

Wake Forest Provost Rogan Kersh announced Aug. 11 that he has appointed Professor José Villalba as interim chief diversity officer.

The appointment of Villalba follows Chief Diversity Officer Barbee Myers Oakes’ departure to take the same role at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

In a message emailed to students, faculty and staff, Kersh wrote that he was “pleased to announce” Villalba’s appointment.

“Dr. Villalba arrived at Wake Forest in 2011 as Associate Professor of Counseling; he has spent the past four years in the Office of the Dean of the College, most recently holding the title of Senior Associate Dean for Faculty, Evaluation, and Inclusivity,” Kersh wrote. “In this role, Dr. Villalba participated in student-facing initiatives, worked with faculty and staff development efforts related to diversity and inclusion, was instrumental in faculty recruitment for the undergraduate College, and proved a key partner for offices and departments across the university. Dr. Villalba will remain in the Dean of the College’s office in an advisory role.”

As interim chief diversity officer, Kersh wrote, “Dr. Villalba will continue to build on our strong foundation for enhancing inclusion and diversity at Wake Forest. His teaching and research expertise is highly relevant for this vital interim role, ranging across health disparities in Latina/o youth, multicultural counseling, and minority populations’ access to and completion of higher education.”

Kersh added that Villalba has expressed “great enthusiasm for joining the talented team in our Office of Diversity and Inclusion as they continue to engage with an increasingly diverse and inclusive Wake Forest community. He is also deeply committed to extend and strengthen partnerships with offices and individuals across the University in the service of seamless support systems for all members of our campus, especially those from historically marginalized groups.”

Villalba praised the achievements of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion team.

“The Leadership Team in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has provided exemplary and necessary support, guidance, and understanding to the greater Wake Forest Community.  I look forward to serving with this talented and skilled group of colleagues as we strive to value and appreciate the contributions of our community of students and families, faculty, staff, administrators, and alums,” Villalba said.

He came to Wake Forest from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he was an associate professor.  His background also includes a faculty position at Indiana State University.

At the University of Florida, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, Master of Education and Education Specialist degrees in school guidance and counseling, and a doctorate in counselor education.

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Reaffirming support for our transgender community

This message was emailed to students, faculty and staff on Feb. 23 by University administrators Rogan Kersh, Penny Rue and Barbee Oakes:

Dear Wake Forest students, faculty and staff:

We have reviewed new guidance from the Department of Education and the Department of Justice regarding transgender students. This Dear Colleague Letter rolled back significant guidance issued last May delineating institutional responsibility to treat trans students according to their gender identity.

On behalf of Wake Forest University, we are in full support of our transgender community. We invite you to read the thoughtful message, prepared by LGBTQ Center Director Angela Mazaris and Program Coordinator Kayla Lisenby, which affirms our values and support for all people. We are fortunate to have such caring leadership in our LGBTQ Center, which has been at the forefront of providing education, advocacy, and support to the campus community around issues of gender identity and sexual orientation since its inception in 2011.

In addition, our Transgender Policies Workgroup formed last fall aims to ensure that Wake Forest provides the best possible experience of inclusion for trans members of our community – students, faculty, staff, and visitors – and it will continue to do so. The recently released Dear Colleague Letter does nothing to change our steadfast commitment to helping create a safe and supportive educational and work environment for trans students and colleagues. Leaders across the University share our affirmation.

Now is the time to reach out and provide support to members of our transgender community as we seek to create an inclusive, welcoming and supportive campus. Our LGBTQ Center, Counseling Center, Student Health, Dean of Students Office, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Chaplain’s Office and many other campus resources are all ready and eager to help students navigate the shifting legal landscape and claim their place here at Wake.


Rogan Kersh, Provost
Penny Rue, Vice President for Campus Life
Barbee Oakes, Chief Diversity Officer

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Faculty, staff enhance ability to facilitate diversity in classroom


Faculty and staff participate in the Summer Institute for Intercultural Professional Development and Pedagogy

This is a guest post from Office of Diversity and Inclusion:

This fall, 30-plus faculty and staff from across the University will be more equipped to facilitate diverse experiences in their educational offerings and to promote inclusion and equity at the University. They participated in the Summer Institute for Intercultural Professional Development and Pedagogy this past July.  Advanced by members of the Curricular Changes and Faculty Development sub-committee of the Campus Climate Implementation Team, the Institute emerged from recommendations provided by the campus community in fall 2014 as part of the Deliberative Dialogue Series on Inclusion.

Jose Villalba, senior associate dean for faculty, evaluation, and inclusivity, and Shayla Herndon-Edmunds, director of diversity education, spearheaded the effort with support from Barbee Oakes, chief diversity officer, Lynn Sutton, vice provost, and Catherine Ross, director of the Teaching and Learning Center. Former Wake Forest Fellows Muhammad Siddiqui and Nia Evans also contributed greatly to the development and implementation of the Institute.

Participants in the Institute were selected after completing an application for admission and were assigned pre-readings for discussions during the two-day, overnight experience at Graylyn International Conference Center. The Institute covered a wide-range of topics, including facilitating difficult dialogues in the classroom and campus settings, the role that self-awareness plays in cultural competence, and best practices for creating inclusive spaces. Each participant left the Institute with a personal action plan to continue to strengthen their skills, and they also reported significant increases in their confidence and ability to manage complex discussions around difference, empathize with others, among other measures of intercultural competence according to a pre- and post-test administered by Dr. Villalba.

“What I find most impactful about the Institute is that faculty and staff now have more tools and skills at their disposal to improve interactions with students, shape campus departments, and create programs,” said Villalba. “Their willingness to challenge themselves to be more inclusive and aware as educators is a great model for our campus community and hopefully will inspire others to do the same.”

The Institute is a part of the Dean of the College’s “Maximizing Inclusivity + Minimizing Apathy (MIMA)” professional development series for faculty and staff. MIMA offers skills-based workshops in the fall semester and awareness/theoretical sessions in the spring. This October, faculty and staff can look forward to a session that addresses the complex mental health concerns of students on campus. The session is co-sponsored by the Learning Assistance Center, University Counseling Center, and Office of Academic Advising. For more information, contact Jose Villabla at villalja@nullwfu.edu.

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Categories: Guest Post

Barbee Oakes named University's first chief diversity officer

Dr. Barbee Oakes, Director, Wake Forest Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Barbee Oakes, chief diversity officer

Barbee Oakes, one of the most recognized leaders in Wake Forest diversity and inclusion initiatives, has been promoted to a new position expanding her opportunities to advance those efforts.

Recently, Oakes was appointed as Wake Forest’s first chief diversity officer. She retains her assistant provost title and responsibilities, developed over her six years in that role.

“As our first chief diversity officer, Barbee is beautifully positioned to advance strategic planning and execution of Wake Forest’s diversity and inclusion initiatives,” said Provost Rogan Kersh. “She will confer regularly with the president’s cabinet, deans, governance boards and the larger campus community on issues involving the University’s progress on inclusive excellence initiatives.”

Oakes has her sights set on several high-priority goals for this year and beyond.

“Continuing to proactively address campus climate issues remains a very high University priority this year,” Oakes said. “With increased diversity, the challenges we face in establishing policies, programs and practices to ensure everyone feels included become more complex and nuanced.”

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Community Forum on Campus Climate to be held Sept. 9

A Community Forum on Campus Climate will be held Sept. 9 in Benson University Center, Room 401.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to the forum to be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The forum will focus on the progress Wake Forest has made as a community since the Deliberative Dialogue discussions on diversity and inclusion were held on campus last year. Information on the achievements of various action teams associated with the Deliberative Dialogue will be presented.

The forum will also focus attention on the University community’s next steps to address campus climate issues.

Speakers will include Provost Rogan Kersh, Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Provost Barbee Oakes, and Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue.

The forum will conclude with a question and answer session led by Melissa Harris-Perry, executive director of the Pro Humanitate Institute, director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center and Presidential Endowed Professor of Politics and International Affairs.

The forum is presented by the Campus Climate Action Implementation Team.

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