Finalists Announced for UA Inclusivity Leadership Position

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Members of The University of Alabama community are invited to attend public presentations by each of the four finalists for vice president and associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Finalists are:

  • Shakeer A. Abdullah, assistant vice president for equity and diversity, The University of Minnesota
  • Bryan K. Fair, the Thomas E. Skinner Professor of Law, UA School of Law
  • Wanda R. Heading-Grant, vice president for human resources, diversity and multicultural affairs, University of Vermont
  • G. Christine Taylor, former vice provost for diversity and inclusion, chief diversity officer, Purdue University

Information about each of the candidates and their schedule of campus open forums is available at

The first candidate, Wanda Heading-Grant, will meet with faculty and staff in an open forum from 10-11 a.m. Monday, March 20, in Room 1014 of North Lawn Hall. The student forum will follow from 11 a.m.-noon in the same location. Future open forums with the remaining candidates are scheduled for the same location with dates and times scheduled as follows:

March 21:  Bryan Fair
– Faculty and staff forum – 1:30 p.m.
– Student forum – 2:30 p.m.

March 23:  Shakeer Abdullah
– Faculty and staff forum – 4:00 p.m.
– Student forum – 5:00 p.m.

March 24:  Christine Taylor
– Faculty and staff forum – 9:30 a.m.
– Student forum – 10:30 a.m.

Abdullah has served in the University of Minnesota’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion since 2013. As assistant vice president, Abdullah engages all of the UM System’s campuses in implementing the office’s vision. Abdullah leads and provides oversight for the planning and designing of programs, services and initiatives that support student access and success.

Prior to joining UM, Abdullah served as director of Auburn University’s multicultural center from 2008-2013. Abdullah earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Wittenberg University, a master’s from The Ohio State University and a doctorate in administration of higher education from Auburn.

Fair has held his endowed professor position in UA’s School of Law since 2000 and has served on the law school’s faculty since 1991. A constitutional law expert, Fair has taught courses on race, racism and American law and gender, sexism and American law, among many others.

Fair has served as director of international programs, associate dean for special programs and director of international and diversity programs during his stint at the law school. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and his juris doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

Heading-Grant has served at the University of Vermont since 1990 and in the vice president capacity since 2013. In that role, Heading-Grant provides strategic vision, leadership, coordination and planning for various centers and offices including the Women’s Center, Mosaic Student Center, LGBTQA Center and the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Office.

Prior to the present appointment, Heading-Grant served as chief diversity officer and special assistant to the president for multicultural initiatives. Heading-Grant earned a bachelor of social work from the University of Vermont, a master’s from Adelphi University and a Doctor of Education from the University of Vermont.

Taylor served as Purdue’s inaugural vice provost for diversity and inclusion from 2009-2015. There, Taylor provided vision and leadership for the division with goals of increasing enrollment, retention and graduation rates of underrepresented minorities, increasing recruitment, hiring and retention rates of underrepresented minority faculty and staff and building a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

Prior to joining Purdue, Taylor served as associate vice president for institutional diversity at Miami University from 2008-2009. Taylor earned a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism from Middle Tennessee State University and a master’s and a doctorate (in mass communication) from Ohio University.

A 15-member search committee, consisting of UA faculty, staff and student, worked with a search firm, the Desir Group, a national firm with a strong focus on diverse executive searches, in identifying candidates.

The search launched last fall after a series of information meetings with key campus and community stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students and alumni.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.