Assistant dean strives to diversify

Asst. Dean Chris Barbour nominated to attend immersive three day-institute

By Maddie Dickman, Guest Writer

Assistant Dean of the College of Professional Sciences Chris Barbour has been selected to attend the Ujima Institute through the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. 

He was nominated by Dr. Ivy Banks, Vice President of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. 

In November, Barbour will join a cohort of other African American and Black higher education professionals for a three-day experience at Morgan University. 

The Ujima Institute, founded by Dr. Lisa VanHoose, focuses on creating a purposeful space for Black leaders within professional settings across America. 

Participating educators will be immersed in a professional learning environment that event organizers hope will allow for the growth of culturally unique and relevant leadership skills.

“Ujima,” the third principle of the holiday Kwanzaa, translates to “collective work and responsibility.” 

The idea of an inclusive duty to maintain cultural liberation in social and societal settings is at the forefront of both the Ujima Institute’s values and Barbour’s personal life. Having worked at Xavier for almost 15 years, Barbour attributes much of his personal and professional growth to the university. 

Photo courtesy of Chris Barbour
Assistant Dean of the College of Professional Sciences Chris Barbour has been nominated to attend the Ujima Institute.

“I must bring my full self to the job every day. In doing so, I am able to give our students the attention and care that they need here in order to succeed,” Barbour said.

The Ujima Institute strives to represent the importance of a “village effort” in which the group acknowledges the utmost importance of all people, regardless of race and background, to make a conscious choice to involve Black communities in furthering societal wellness.

Barbour is eager to see universities’ diversity initiatives beyond Xavier’s and to work with other professionals who are equally as passionate about this topic. 

He hopes to serve as an inspiration to other Black leaders in higher education.

“Although I’ve been blessed to have advanced professionally as a Black man at a predominately-White institution, thanks to those that have preceded me, I owe it to future aspiring higher education professionals to show them a viable path to meet their goals,” Barbour said.

Barbour is also excited to implement his future lessons and personal growth into his work at Xavier.  

“(This) serves as a badge of honor for me,” Barbour said. “This is an opportunity for continued growth and learning so that I will be able to better impact our community here at Xavier.”

Barbour also reflected on the past growth that has occurred during his time at the institution. 

He recognizes that progress has been made on campus toward a more inclusive environment, but he is also quick to acknowledge the continuous need to strive for improvement. 

“With the prevalence of racial discord throughout our country, our neighborhoods and even our campus, we must remain steadfast in our efforts to cultivate an appreciation and respect for other cultures, even if it makes you uncomfortable,” he said. 

After honing his skills at the Ujima Institute, Barbour hopes to bring new perspectives to Xavier’s campus.

“I intend to bring back those experiences and to use them to make this place, Xavier University, the most culturally inclusive community possible. This is yet another testament to Xavier’s desire to continue to grow and enhance our home here on Victory Parkway,” Barbour said.