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PYSK: Kevin McDonald, Chief Diversity Officer, UM System

Title and company/organization:

Chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, University of Missouri System, and interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity, MU.



Job description:

Provide collaborative leadership to the diversity and inclusion efforts at the UM System and MU.


Years lived in Columbia/mid-Missouri:

Two months.

Original hometown:

Cleveland, Ohio.


B.S. in psychology, Andrews University; J.D., The Ohio State University; Ed.D. in higher education, University of Rochester.

Professional background:

Disability rights investigator, Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, disability rights section; dispute administrator, Network Solutions; campus compliance officer, University of Maryland–College Park; assistant director of compliance and conflict resolution, Johns Hopkins University; director of equal opportunity and affirmative action programs, Virginia Tech; vice president for equity and inclusion, Virginia Tech; vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, Rochester Institute of Technology.

A Columbia businessperson I admire and why:

I haven’t been here long enough to identify someone, but I look forward to meeting more members of the business community.

A favorite recent project:

Founding the M.O.C.H.A. (Men of Color, Honor, and Ambition) Initiative at RIT and seeing its transformative impact on the lives of young undergraduate men.

If I weren’t doing this for a living, I would:

probably be working for the state or federal government, because I’ve always had a fondness for government entities.

Why I’m passionate about my job:

I’m driven by a desire to make a difference in the lives of others, and I’m passionate about the importance of diversity and inclusion in an organization’s quest for excellence. I just want to work collaboratively to help organizations desiring to achieve inclusive excellence.


Why I’m passionate about my company:

There is supportive leadership and a collective will among students, faculty, staff, administrators, and local community members to work collaboratively to move diversity and inclusion efforts forward. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this community, and I look forward to working with others in an effort to set the system, and all of the campuses that comprise it, apart nationally as having the best practices in the diversity and inclusion arena.


What people should know about this profession:

That it is steeped in research, and that this research, when examined disaggregated, tells important stories that inform the work of diversity professionals in higher education and in other professions.

The next challenge facing my industry:

Believing in and operating on the fact that diversity is more than just increasing the composition of an organization; it also entails leveraging those differences in a variety of functioning areas to impact the organization’s bottom line.

My next professional goal:

I don’t know — I think I have enough keeping me busy with these two roles that I don’t have much time to think about what my next professional goal will be. Suffice it to say that I believe it will be in higher education, because I have grown to love the field.


Biggest lesson learned in business:

Your degrees and past professional experiences may help you get through a professional door, but your ability to forge, nurture, and maintain strong professional relationships will keep you there and allow you to ascend in your career.


How you would like to impact the Columbia community:

I look forward to working collaboratively to positively impact the K–12 pipeline to higher education and initiatives focused on the younger generation.

Greatest strength:

My interpersonal communication skills.

Greatest weakness:

Taking on too much and not finding enough of a work–life balance.

What I do for fun:

I love working out and eating out with my family and friends.


I’m married to Kim McDonald, and we have three wonderful children: Rodney Osborne Jr., 24, Kayla McDonald, 16, and Kesslyn McDonald, 14.

Favorite place in Columbia:

I enjoy Main Squeeze and Babbo’s as favorite places to eat, and I enjoy Wilson’s Fitness as a favorite place to work out. I haven’t discovered my favorite trail as of yet. There are a few to choose from, so the jury is still out.


Accomplishment I’m most proud of:

Working with my wonderful partner to raise three amazingly gifted, respectful, and driven children.  Most people don’t know that: I’m a vegan who enjoys heated yoga.

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