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Congratulations to Damon Williams

I am proud of the work of the ODI team over the past several years, and more importantly, of the students, postdocs, and campus partners who are dedicated to creating a more inclusive and equitable culture of belonging at Northwestern.”

Damon Williams
Associate Dean, TGS Office of Diversity and Inclusion


It is with decidedly mixed feelings that I write to let you know that Associate Dean Damon Williams will soon depart The Graduate School to take on the challenge of a new position as the associate vice president in the Office of Institutional Diversity at the University of Kentucky. I am dismayed to have Damon leave us, but I am happy for him to have this opportunity to advance in his career and expand his leadership contributions to diversity and inclusion at an institutional level. 
The TGS Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) was first established in 2014, and it has been an integral part of our mission since its creation. Over the past five years, the office has grown in size and scope during Damon’s tenure. He has worked tirelessly to expand and enhance the recruitment and retention initiatives of TGS, resulting in a record number of underrepresented minority students, first-generation students, and those who identify as LGBTQIA+ joining our newest cohort of incoming PhD students. 
Damon has personally mentored and coached many students and postdocs, helping them navigate the challenges of Northwestern and the social injustices present in the world. He has been a truly thoughtful and dedicated adviser and colleague to students, faculty, and staff alike. Many of the advancements in diversity and inclusion at the program level are the result of the relationships Damon has nurtured and the collaborative approach he has used to educate others and champion progress. He also was integral in forming The Graduate School Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council, which is responsible for providing feedback and guidance on diversity and inclusion plans and initiatives focused on graduate and professional students, postdoctoral scholars, and other key constituency groups.
“I am proud of the work of the ODI team over the past several years, and more importantly, of the students, postdocs, and campus partners who are dedicated to creating a more inclusive and equitable culture of belonging at Northwestern,” adds Damon Williams. “It is a bittersweet feeling to leave this community, but I am excited by the opportunity to challenge myself in this new role.”
Damon’s legacy includes enhancing signature ODI programs like the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) and Introduction to Graduate Education (IGEN), and introducing an array of new programming, including Northwestern’s participation in the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, Navigating Northwestern, the Diversity Peer Mentor Program, the popular Let’s Talk Diversity dialogue series, the ODI Welcome Reception for incoming TGS students, and numerous diversity celebrations. 
He has been an important facilitator and leader for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives not only in The Graduate School but across Northwestern and in national dialogues. Recently Damon was selected to be a panelist at the White House’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Conference this September. He was chosen after a highly competitive review process in recognition of his outstanding recruitment and retention efforts at Northwestern University.
We are sad to see Damon go, but excited to see him grow and elevate his contributions through this new institution-wide opportunity. We also are pleased to announce that TGS Associate Director of Student Life Lauren-Ashley Buchanan has agreed to serve as interim director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion while we search for a replacement. Lauren has worked hard to foster meaningful dialogue and connections with graduate student leaders and campus partners, and we appreciate the experience and insight she brings to this role. We look forward to continuing the efforts made by Damon and his team during his time at Northwestern without interruption.
Please join me in congratulating Damon on his new position, which he will begin on September 1.
Kelly E. Mayo
Walter and Jennie Bayne Professor of Molecular Biosciences
Dean of The Graduate School and
Associate Provost for Graduate Education
Northwestern University

Categories: From the Dean