New Vice Provost for Academic Administration and Faculty Affairs Focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

September 1, 2021 | Diversity, News, UToday, Alumni
By Christine Billau

Dr. La Fleur Small, a medical sociologist and vice provost of faculty affairs at Wright State University, will join The University of Toledo as vice provost for academic administration and faculty affairs on Sept. 20.

“Endeavors designed for faculty success ultimately lead to student success,” Small said. “I look forward to becoming a Rocket and am excited for the opportunity to bring my experience in faculty affairs, my open-door policy ethos and focus on increasing diversity, equity and inclusion among faculty ranks to UToledo.”


“I am delighted that Dr. Small will be joining us here at The University of Toledo,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Her experience in faculty affairs will be a great benefit to all of us. She brings a strong faculty focus with excellent ideas for supporting, engaging and working together with faculty in productive ways.”

As vice provost at Wright State University since September 2020, Small collaborated with the Faculty Senate’s Racial Equity Taskforce Policies and Procedures Subcommittee and AAUP-WSU to advance a change to the collective bargaining agreement that codified equity and inclusion language in the faculty annual evaluation portion of the agreement. This ensured that faculty members were evaluated fairly by department chairs during annual evaluations if they did classroom teaching, research or service work pertaining to underrepresented community members.

In her role at UToledo, Small will serve as the academic affairs representative for diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I plan to work with the vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion to establish platforms and programs to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion among faculty,” Small said. “Understanding the culture and having positive interactions is necessary to advance changes and build upon progress being made. Everyone on campus is a stakeholder.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she supervised the Wright State University Center for Teaching and Learning, which proved instrumental in helping faculty transition to an all-remote, online teaching environment. Small also was responsible for ensuring that faculty credentials were kept up to date and followed Higher Learning Commission requirements.

“This is critical experience as UToledo is preparing for a Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation site visit later this year,” Bjorkman said.

Small is a campus leader recruited by Melissa Hurst, executive director of talent strategy and development in the UToledo Department of Human Resources, who drove the search process.

At Wright State University since 2004, Small is a sociology professor who held a secondary appointment in WSU’s Boonshoft School of Medicine for most of her career and also has served as chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and director of the Applied Behavioral Sciences Master’s Program.

Between 2009 and 2015 Small served as a grant reviewer for the Ford Foundation Fellowship Diversity Awards for pre-doctoral and doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers in the field of sociology, designed to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity; maximize the educational benefits of diversity; and increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

A medical sociologist and epidemiologist by training, Small’s research focuses on global health, HIV and AIDS among vulnerable health populations. She has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.

In 2017 she gave a TEDx Talk in Dayton about the rise of HIV in older adults and how to talk with aging parents about safe sex.

Small earned her Ph.D. in medical sociology and epidemiology and her master’s degree in sociology from the University of Miami, as well as a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Trinity College.

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