Schvalla Rivera Appointed Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion and Senior Advisor to the President

June 22, 2020

Schvalla R. Rivera, Ph.D., CDE, has been appointed Chief Diversity Officer, Associate Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, and Senior Advisor to the President at Grinnell College. Dr. Rivera currently serves as the assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion at Southern Utah University. She will start her new role here on July 1, 2020. 

Schvalla R. Rivera

Prior to assuming her current leadership role, Rivera served as the dean of students at Western Nebraska Community College and before that was the assistant dean of students and director of intercultural life at Cornell College. Rivera comes with 15 years of experience in higher education administration in fields such as residence life, multicultural student affairs, international student affairs, and academic advising. 
“Dr. Rivera is a strong advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity issues in higher education,” says Anne Harris, Dean of the College. “I look forward to the leadership she will bring to this critical position as Grinnelians further commit ourselves to challenging systemic racism, anti-Blackness, and white supremacy. The passion Dr. Rivera has to change the world through education will strengthen our academic community and mission as we work to address issues of racial justice.” 

As a member of Grinnell’s senior leadership team Rivera will work closely with the President on institutional planning, developing short- and long-range strategies, policy development, and problem-solving. As a senior advisor to the President, she will discuss and recommend policies, structures, research, and practices that further diversity and inclusion throughout the college. 

Serving as co-chair of the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), Dr. Rivera will help ensure that diversity and inclusion efforts are a fundamental part of the College and will remain a vital component of our institutional goals over the long term. She will play a lead role on the annual review and implementation of the College’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan that provides a roadmap for diversity and inclusion efforts and exists as a living document - ever-changing and adapting to the needs of the College. 

“I look forward to joining the leadership team at Grinnell College! I am very honored and humbled that you have selected me for this role in this critical time in history,” Rivera says. “I desire to work with you to create opportunities for learning and holistic development. Together we will ask the difficult questions, we will seek solutions, and we will challenge the status quo. In doing so, we can become a more equitable and inclusive community.” 

Rivera holds a B.A. in social science from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, an M.S. in political science and a Ph. D. in curriculum and instruction from Indiana State University. She is a Certified Diversity Executive and has collaborated with executive leadership to create institutional diversity policies and respond to bias-related incidents. 

At the College, Rivera will contribute to strategic discussions and play a central role advocating for and championing a comprehensive institutional strategy around all matters of equity and inclusion. She will also lead the College in exploring issues of purpose, responsibility, and justice on campus and beyond by providing leadership, management, and strategic planning for diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

Rivera will succeed Lakesia Johnson, who provided transformative work and dedication as the Assistant Vice-President of Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020. Johnson will return to faculty service with anticipation for all that her teaching and research will make possible. 

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