(Posted January 12, 2018)

Huntingdon, Pa.—After an extensive national search, Juniata College has hired Marita C. Gilbert, Ph.D., former director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at the State University of New York at Oneonta, as its first Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence. Gilbert begins in her role on January 15, 2018, and will serve as the senior equity, inclusion and diversity officer of the College. Responsible for shaping, operationalizing and integrating efforts that support and enhance equity and inclusivity in the College’s learning environment, Gilbert will be a resource to all on campus while paying particular attention to those students and faculty who have been historically marginalized or underrepresented.

“In hiring Dr. Marita Gilbert, Juniata elevates its intentions and actions toward building an inclusive community to the level appropriate for a College with our history, values and aspirations,” says Juniata President James A. Troha. “While we have long had staff dedicated to issues of inclusion and equity on our campus, the position Dr. Gilbert holds is the first iteration to be a part of the College’s Senior Leadership Team. We expect her contributions at that level to help us deliver on our mission in an environment equitable to all who choose to be a part of Juniata.”

Gilbert will work with academic affairs, student life, human resources and other College offices and staff to achieve goals related to inclusion articulated in the Juniata’s strategic plan, “Courage to Act,” published in 2015. Gilbert’s career has included teaching, research, advocacy and administration, as well as mentoring and supervision of students in a variety of higher education settings. She will also serve as a member of the College’s Senior Leadership Team.

“Having someone with Dr. Gilbert’s breadth of experience and knowledge provides us with visionary leadership that will help sustain and institutionalize our longstanding commitment to inclusivity and will do much to help Juniata deliver on its promise and potential as an equitable place of learning for all who are here,” says Lauren Bowen, Juniata’s provost and chief academic officer.  

Prior to Gilbert’s most recent role at SUNY-Oneonta, she held the post of senior advisor to the Center for Intercultural Student Success and Advancement at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where she helped operationalize student success efforts, including personal, academic and professional development, persistence toward graduation, and dealing with issues of bias and inclusion. She developed dialogue-based programming for various campus constituents while providing education and advocacy relative to intersectional gender equity. While at Allegheny, Gilbert also was visiting assistant professor in interdisciplinary studies, teaching courses including, “Exploring Difference: A Multidisciplinary Inquiry,” “Black Women in American Culture” and “Explorations in Black Feminisms.” Her career at Allegheny began with a post as scholar-in-residence in Allegheny’s interdisciplinary studies department.

Before her work at Allegheny, Gilbert was instructor of kinesiology at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, teaching courses including “Socio-Cultural Aspects of Sport,” “The Healthy Lifestyle,” and “Foundations of Kinseiology.” For two years at Michigan State she also participated in research funded by the National Institutes of Health that investigated asthma programs in public schools. Before going to Michigan State, Gilbert was director of student athlete support services at the University of New Orleans in Louisiana.

“While I have experience in various roles at different colleges and universities in the service of advancing equity and understanding, I look forward to the role I will have at Juniata at the senior level and working with colleagues in every aspect of life at the College,” says Gilbert. “I appreciate that the College is so committed to a positive and welcoming learning environment for its faculty, students, and staff. I am enthused and ready to join in that good work.”

Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Matthew Damschroder co-chaired the search committee that brought Gilbert to Juniata. “The campus lauded Dr. Gilbert’s understanding of social justice and equity theory and practice in higher education contexts,” Damschroder says. “Her experiences in teaching and program development span classroom and co-curricular environments and her enthusiasm for the relationships and personal interactions that characterize this campus impressed the committee. Most critically, she places importance on developing capacity of students, faculty, and staff across campus to meet the College’s strategic plan opportunities and challenges.”

The co-chair of the search committee, Cynthia Merriwether-DeVries, associate professor of sociology, noted, “Dr. Gilbert has served as a program director at another small college and worked with students, faculty and staff to promote institutional development and expansion of perspectives and activities that were new to that campus culture. Her colleagues there praised her masterful ability to not only ‘keep the choir in tune’ but also to broaden awareness of salient issues and encourage others to join that choir.”

In the past decade, Juniata has increased the number of students of African American, Native American, Asian American, and Latinx by more than 600%. In 2015, Juniata received the 2015 INSIGHT into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award. “Given the way our campus continues to evolve and grow,” says Troha, “we are rightly adding the intellectual and administrative leadership required for our students.”


Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.