St. John's Gate in the Spring

Equity and Inclusion Council

Our Mission

The mission of the St. John’s University Equity and Inclusion Council (the “Council”) aligns with our University’s mission and core values: to promote an academically enriching and supportive climate that allows all members of our community to thrive and succeed. The Council recommends institutional policy and practice changes needed to create an equitable and inclusive learning, teaching, and working environment. 

We aspire to become the national model of inclusive excellence.

The Equity and Inclusion Council is the result of a merger of the Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion and the President’s Multicultural Advisory Committee. The council’s charges are the same as those given to the task force:

  • ensure that the training for staff and administrators and the professional development opportunities for faculty are sufficiently robust in the areas of diversity and inclusion
  • recruit and retain faculty, administrators, and staff from historically underrepresented groups
  • advocate for diversity and inclusion to be embedded in curricula, working closely with the University Core Curriculum Committee (UCCC) and with relevant department/College curriculum committees for major course of study curricula, and
  • foster a more inclusive campus climate. 

The council’s leadership team includes Manouchkathe Cassagnol, Pharm.D., Associate Clinical Professor, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Monique Jernigan, Assistant Vice President, Equity and Inclusion; André McKenzie, Vice Provost and Interim Chief Diversity Officer; Matthew Pucciarelli, Associate Provost of Global Studies; and Linda Romano, Director of Digital Communication.

2021–22 Members

Fedaling Agwumezie 
Assistant Director, Outcomes Assessment and Community Partnerships

Mellissa Bortz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Amanda Budha
Student, Class of 2022
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Alina Camacho-Gingerich, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor, Department of Languages and Literatures, and Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Manouchkathe Cassagnol, Pharm.D., BCPS, AACC
Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Clinical Health Professions; Cochair, Equity and Inclusion Council; and Director, Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Christine Chim, Pharm.D., BCACP 
Associate Professor
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Department of Clinical Health Professions

Randall F. Clemens, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
The School of Education
Department of Administration and Instructional Leadership

Rahsaan Coefield ’16CPS

Rayven E. Danage 
The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies

Anika Dorsey
Admissions Counselor, The School of Education

Anita Gomez-Palacio ’65Ed, ’89PD 
Board of Trustee
Retired Executive Director of Operations, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators

Christine Marie Goodwin, Ed.D.
Director, Office of Institutional Research

Irene Gorosave
Graduate Assistant
Office of Human Resources and Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion 

Francine F. Guastello, Ed.D.
Associate Professor
The School of Education
Department of Education Specialties

Danielle Hardy, Esq. ’16CPS

Olga Hilas, Pharm.D., MPH, BCPS, BCGP, FASCP
Associate Professor
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Department of Clinical Health Professions

Jaelyn C. Hill-Rucker 
The Peter J. Tobin College of Business

Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D. 
Vice President, Division of Student Affairs

Alison G. Hyslop, Ph.D.
Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Anna M. Jackman ’06SOE, ’07G

Kevin T. James ’11C, ’13MBA 
Associate Dean and Associate Professor
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Monique Jernigan 
Assistant Vice President, Equity and Inclusion

Cassandra Johnson ’06G 

Imena M. Johnson 
Graduate Student
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Lauren Jorgensen ‘SJC16

Nancy S. Kaplan, Ed.D. 
Associate Provost, Academic Support Services and External Academic Partnerships

Steven Kendrick
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Michael J. Knee ’19Pharm.D.

Candice Lackwood 
Event Manager
Conference and Auxiliary Services

Michael J. Lynch ’08SVP, ’83G

Remy A. Martin
Graduate Assistant, Performing Arts
Division of Student Affairs

Christopher Martinez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies
Department of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Homeland Security

Teresa A. Mason, Esq. 
Board Emeriti
Retired Chief of Staff
Office of the Bronx District Attorney

André McKenzie, Ed.D.
Vice Provost and Interim Chief Diversity Officer

Nicolas Motta
First-year student
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Nicole Mussenden
Adjunct Professor
The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies

Megan O’Neill 
Ph.D. Candidate
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Daphné Vanessa Pierre, Esq. ’09C, ’11G

Matthew Pucciarelli, Ph.D. 
Associate Provost of Global Programs

Heather C. Robertson, Ph.D., LMHC, CRC, CASAC
Associate Professor and Coordinator of Clinical Mental Health Counseling
The School of Education
Department of Counselor Education

Linda Romano
Director, Digital Communications

Victoria R. Santangelo 
Associate Vice President, University Ministry

Kathryn G. Shaughnessy 
Associate Professor and OER Librarian
University Libraries

Benjamin Turner
Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Library Assessment and Inclusive Practices
University Libraries

Learn More

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Certificate Program

The program launched on October 4, 2017 with a two-day, train-the-trainer module facilitated by external, expert consultants Tanya Williams, Ph.D., and Kathy Obear, Ph.D. The initial cohort consists of 35 faculty and administrators from across the University. Subsequent to the train-the-trainer component, cohort members have been working to deepen their knowledge, education, and understanding of equity and inclusion best practices. Program participants will deliver diversity training to faculty, administrators, and staff. Upon completion of the 18-month program, this cohort will become the University’s first “Inclusion Practitioners,” charged with working within their respective departments or units to identify ways in which policies and procedures may be modified to create a more inclusive workplace.

Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion 

In response to an invitation from the Provost, a faculty workgroup was created to operationalize an Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion. Workgroup members began to meet over summer 2017. The Academic Center has become the hub/portal for faculty to enhance their ability to create curricular content and pedagogical practices that meet the needs of our diverse students as well as our global community.

The "pillars” of the Center include providing education/pedagogical resources, producing skills building/professional development opportunities, facilitating intergroup dialogue, supporting research/scholarship, and advocating for and supporting faculty in the implementation of inclusive teaching practices. The faculty workgroup created the Center’s mission and vision statements and conducted a SWOT and benchmark analysis. In collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, in 2017-18 the concept of the Academic Center was presented to students for their feedback. The Academic Center has been fully operational since fall 2018.

External consultants Christopher D. Lee, Ph.D., SPHR, and Marcia Harrington, Ph.D., were secured to conduct a faculty-needs assessment in order to determine how to best provide faculty with the resources and skills necessary to improve pedagogical approaches that support the success of all students, with special emphasis on ensuring equity and inclusion. The data collection concluded May 2018 and has been used to inform our equity and inclusion efforts.

Department–Specific Training

In addition to the University-wide training being developed in connection with the Certificate program described above, certain departments will receive diversity training specifically tailored to their needs. These trainings were first provided to the Department Public Safety officers and senior leardership in 2017 and have been ongoing.

Hiring Best Practices Training

The University has engaged the services of Dr. Sonel Shropshire, President of the Academic Network, Inc., to assist in the implementation of faculty recruiting best practices. Dr. Shropshire presented on strategies to successfully recruit diverse candidates at the August 2017 Chairs Retreat. External consultants will provide hiring best practices training (including addressing implicit bias) to members of departmental Personnel and Budget Committees.

Recruitment and Retention Efforts

The University became a member of the Minority Faculty/Staff Applicant Database (MFAD), a significant resource in circulating faculty, staff, and administrative positions to diverse candidates. Task Force members have also represented St. John’s at the Black Doctoral Network, Inc., Collegiate Diversity Recruitment Fair in Philadelphia. This fair provided the University with an opportunity to network with Black and Latinx faculty, post-docs, and graduate students. 

Effective spring 2018, Dr. Gempesaw appointed Nada Llewellyn, in her capacity as Chief Diversity Officer, to serve on the University Personnel Committee. The University Personnel Committee is an administrative and faculty committee that decides faculty tenure and promotion actions.

The University became an institutional member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, a nationally recognized, independent organization that provides online career development and mentoring resources for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students.

Core Curriculum

Members of the Task Force continue to collaborate and consult with the University Core Curriculum Committee on the proposed core curriculum outcomes. As a result, the proposed core and core connection outcomes now explicitly incorporate equity and inclusivity themes.

Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion

The Academic Center faculty workgroup determined that the Academic Center will be a central resource to support faculty in the development of high-quality curricula that promotes inclusive excellence and equity in education.

St. John's History Initiative

Task Force member Susie J. Pak, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, began researching the University’s history from an inclusivity perspective, so that the all members of the St. John’s community will have access to our collective story. In fall 2017, a graduate assistant was assigned to help in this effort. Results from this project will be presented as part of the St. John's 150th anniversary celebration.

Bias Reporting

Student Affairs launched an online system for students to report experiences or concerns related to bias, discrimination, harassment, and/or microaggressions within the University community:  

The Task Force formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Lecture Series subcommittee, charged with identifying programming opportunities for the University community. 

Task Force co-chairs worked with representatives of Student Government, Inc., to identify resources (both internal and external) to conduct training for student organization leaders.

Task Force co-chairs met with representatives of several student organizations/movements, including Haraya, Students of Consciousness, Spectrum, and Sankofa, to review the Task Force recommendations and discuss their experiences on campus.

Student Engagement 

The Task Force is creating a subcommittee solely comprising students who will be directly involved in our work and to ensure that students remain aware of our progress. The application is being developed in collaboration with representatives from various student organizations/movements and will be distributed to the entire student body in the coming weeks. 

Campus Climate Survey

In fall of 2018, the University launched a campus climate survey designed to measure how our students experience St. John’s from an inclusivity perspective. These assessments will continue on an ongoing basis and will be used to inform our equity and inclusion efforts.


The University continues to solicit applications for RESPECT (Respond and Partner to Engage our Community Team) this semester. RESPECT is a bias-response team that will serve as an additional resource for members of the University community who experience a bias incident. The RESPECT team, which will comprise students, faculty, staff, and administrators, will assist complainants with formally reporting these incidents if the complainant so desires. They will also help connect complainants with counseling resources if requested. Significantly, RESPECT will be charged with designing educational programming to address any identified patterns of behavior that is inconsistent with an inclusive campus climate.

Inclusivity Resource Center

In fall 2018, the University opened the new Inclusivity Resource Center.  Based on the belief that education is the foundation of a more inclusive campus climate, the purpose of this Center is to provide students with resources to assist them in engaging in authentic and informed dialogue with their peers. This Center will offer monthly equity and inclusivity themed workshops to the University community. It will also feature a room that can be reserved by student groups that address the needs of historically marginalized groups and have missions that are consistent with that of the University.

Within the Office of Human Resources, the following positions play a key role in pushing forward the University’s inclusivity initiatives:

  • Keaton Wong, Director of Equal Opportunity, Compliance and Title IX Coordinator, oversees all bias complaints. For additional information, please click here.
  • Diane Neofytidis, Director, Recruitment, implements changes consistent with best practice to support the recruitment of faculty, staff and administrators from historically underrepresented groups. For additional information, please click here.
  • Eileen Caufield, Associate Director, Training and Development, manages the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Certificate Program. For additional information about the initial cohort, please click here.