The Interview USA
University of Arkansas
Interim Vice-Chancellor for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 

Angela Mosley-Monts

By embracing diversity, Higher Education (HE) institutions can nurture a sense of belonging that empowers students from all backgrounds to thrive academically, personally, and professionally. Angela Mosely-Monts, Interim Vice-Chancellor for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of Arkansas, has worked tirelessly to make this a reality and build an inclusive culture of learning and growth. 

Angela sat down with GoodCourse to discuss issues ranging from how to foster cultural competency on campus to ensuring student safety and challenging unacceptable behavior. 

Angela's Journey

GoodCourse: Can we start with a brief introduction to your current role and institution?

My name is Dr. Angel Mosley-Monts. I’m the interim Vice-Chancellor for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Arkansas. My role is to ensure DEI is embedded into everything we do on campus. As a land grant institution, our mission is to serve individuals from all backgrounds. 

GoodCourse: I’d like to hear more about you. What brought you to the field of DEI — and how did you arrive in your current role?

I’ve been working all my whole life in DEI. I’ve always been passionate about equipping and empowering people to reach their full potential. Even when I was working in corporate America, I found myself in similar roles — preparing our interns to serve in global capacities and training them to work with individuals of all backgrounds. During this time, I worked with the Arkansas Alumni Association in various roles, as well as with our diverse alumni groups. Our purpose was to give underrepresented groups a platform to have voices as university alumni. Five years later, I became the Assistant Vice-Chancellor for the Office of DEI before being promoted to Associate Vice-Chancellor. Later, the name changed from the Office of DEI to the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In that role, I was responsible for providing programming for faculty, staff, students, and alumni to help them to thrive in a diverse working and campus-wide environment. In my current role, my duties expanded, and I am now responsible for four alumni groups, eight employee impact groups, students and leading DEI strategies for our entire campus. 

GoodCourse: Recent guests have discussed the need to advance cultural competency among students to create a welcoming environment on campus. What initiatives have you been working on to this end?

Our new Chancellor, Dr. Charles F. Robinson, has recently established a new Belonging Committee, on which I currently serve. The committee's purpose is to find out what students need to be successful and deliver it. So we’ve held a series of belonging dialogues involving faculty, staff, and students. The dialogue circles allow students to share their experiences, discuss ways to create a more inclusive campus, and feel that their opinion is welcomed. We are currently working through an evaluation process: although the majority of our students feel the campus is a welcoming environment, we are always looking for ways to improve it even further. 

GoodCourse: The issue of freedom of speech has become a talking point on college campuses. Students can find it difficult to deal with different opinions and challenging ideas. What’s your approach?

When it comes to freedom of speech, we have clear policies on our campus: we believe everyone should be given the opportunity to express themselves. Moving forward, we need to teach students to be advocates for their opinions and beliefs. We help our students to understand that sometimes individuals will come to campus who hold opinions that are opposing to theirs: but we want students to see that as an educational opportunity, not a threat. Wherever you go after college, you will encounter people who disagree with you, so we must teach students how to express their ideas. Exposure, education, and awareness are at the heart of what we do. Instead of shutting people down, we need to be open and let them speak — then it’s up to students to make up their minds. 

Exposure, education, and awareness are at the heart of what we do.
GoodCourse: Outside of the classroom, it can be difficult to engage students on DEI topics. Where do you see students getting involved the most — and the least?

When we think about DEI, we should look at it from all dimensions. If we are talking about the classroom, training, or modules, we often only view DEI from a single perspective. But instead of looking at a single factor such as race or ethnicity, we must consider the whole spectrum — social economic status, religion, veterans, disabilities, and more. We talk about belonging and making our campus a more welcoming environment. At its heart, DEI is about looking at individuals for their uniqueness and what they bring to the table — and then going out to develop, equip, and prepare those students. Everyone needs to feel like they belong, like they are welcome, and that someone is looking out for them. 

GoodCourse: Student Safety is a concern for many leaders. How are you dealing with issues such as harassment on campus?

We have a very strong OEOCdivision here on campus. Our faculty, students and staff know that if there is an incident, we have a very strong reporting system in place, as well as a connection to the University of Arkansas Police Department. We have implemented strict policies to address harassment and other forms of unacceptable behavior to make our campus a safer place for all. 

GoodCourse: You’ve been part of many fundraising efforts throughout your career. What strategies have you used to increase engagement?

It’s about sharing the truth about what you’re raising money for and why. With our alumni groups, we have people who understand what it was like to be a student from an underrepresented background at a predominantly white institution. Our alumni and friends have created scholarships to increase access, address gender equality and address first-generation students and those with financial needs. They understand what students need to thrive and succeed, and we’re focusing our fundraising efforts around our students. 

GoodCourse: What’s your top tip for getting students involved in DEI work?

We have several strategies for engagement. In academic terms, we have voluntary training modules as part of some of the faculty members’ syllabi, from entry-level modules all the way to advanced courses. We’ve also built partnerships in the corporate and non-profit sectors — they help students understand what skills they will need in the job market. Finally, we’re striving to become an employer of choice: to do that, we must work harder to equip our faculty and staff with the tools they need to thrive. 

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