The Future of Faculty Diversity (Part 2): Faculty Retention
SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program Webinar Series

View the webinar recording >

In this webinar, SREB-DSP alumni from across the higher education spectrum discussed the importance of faculty diversity and shared thoughts on how institutions can better retain diverse graduate students and faculty.

Across the country, higher education leaders are championing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. The calls for social change that came during the summer of 2020 in communities across the country have been amplified and highlighted within higher education institutions. On many campuses, a key component of the conversations is about an issue that has been inadequately addressed – or unaddressed entirely – for far too long: the lack of faculty diversity. In this webinar, SREB-DSP alumni from across the higher education spectrum discussed the importance of faculty diversity and shared thoughts on how institutions can better retain diverse graduate students and faculty.


Dr. Veronica G. Martinez AcostaVeronica G. Martinez Acosta, Ph.D., is a professor of Biology and director of the Honors Program at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. She earned a Ph.D. in Zoology from Texas A&M University in the laboratory of Dr. Mark J. Zoran. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas under the direction of Dr. Bing Zang (now Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri). Dr. Martinez Acosta has studied systems-level neural plasticity in the annelid worm, Lumbriculus variegatus and in Drosophila melanogaster. Her lab continues to study molecular mechanisms governing neural regeneration and wound healing and the role of stem cell populations in these regenerative processes. She has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Department of the Army in support of the research she carries out primarily with undergraduates. 

Dr. Martinez Acosta serves has won numerous awards for university teaching and service and has provided educational and professional development of faculty in diversity and inclusion at national meetings. In 2020, Dr. Martinez Acosta was named one of the 100 Inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists in America by Cell Mentor. She is a 2005 SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program graduate. More about Dr. Martinez Acosta >

Dr. Melvin (Jai) JacksonMelvin (Jai) Jackson, Ph.D. (he, him, his) is a higher education scholar-leader currently leading as the Director for Graduate Student Success within the College of Education at North Carolina State University. Dr. Jackson earned both his bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management and his master’s degree in College Student Development from Appalachian State University. He earned his doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Research from Louisiana State University where he was recognized as a Louisiana Board of Regents Doctoral Fellow and a proud Southern Region Education Board Doctoral Fellow. He is a passionate servant-leader inspired by his work towards student advocacy, success, and representation. Through service in diversity, inclusion, and equity, Dr. Jackson continues to dedicate his career towards the proliferation of an environment of collective success and anti-racist realities. More about Dr. Jackson >

Dr. Christopher WhittChristopher M. Whitt, Ph.D. is Creighton University’s inaugural Vice Provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. In In his role, he sets strategic priorities and leads collaborative efforts to weave progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion through the university’s culture. In line with the Catholic Jesuit mission of the university, Dr. Whitt works to coordinate these from the perspectives of solidarity and justice by working with every office, department, and unit across campus as well in engaging in efforts with community partners. Among his many entrepreneurial efforts are the collaborative creation of Creighton’s first National Black Alumni Network, building and leading the President’s University Inclusive Excellence Council, and establishing the Union Pacific Diversity Scholars Program.

Dr. Whitt earned his Ph.D in Political Science and his M.A. in Political Science at the University of Maryland, College Park. His B.A. in Political Science is from Salisbury University in Maryland. He is a 2009 SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program graduate. More about Dr. Whitt >

Recorded on January 26, 2021