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Salem State University Appoints Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion

Salem, Mass. – Salem State University has appointed Christopher Macdonald-Dennis, EdD, as vice president of diversity and inclusion. He joined the university on Monday, August 7. Reporting to President John D. Keenan, Macdonald-Dennis will lead the university’s diversity and inclusion priorities in collaboration with stakeholders across campus.

Macdonald-Dennis has decades of experience leading justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work in higher education. He most recently served as senior advisor for institutional equity and belonging at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), where he was previously chief diversity officer for four years and led the division of equity and inclusion. 

Prior to joining MCLA, Macdonald-Dennis was dean of multicultural life at Macalester College and held leadership positions at Bryn Mawr and the University of Michigan. Throughout their career, they have worked with students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the community. In addition to administration, they have experience teaching both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as engaging in research and scholarship.

“With his justice-oriented practice and strong track record of being a coalition builder and change agent, Dr. Macdonald-Dennis is well positioned to deepen and expand Salem State’s work in inclusive excellence,” said President John D. Keenan. 

MacDonald-Dennis will oversee the newly created assistant vice president of Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Minority Serving Institution (MSI) initiatives role held by Elisa Castillo, PhD, along with the director of education and training.

“I’m eager to apply what I’ve learned through my career and life experiences to help Salem State as it aims to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible,” said Macdonald-Dennis. “Diversity and inclusion are central to student success, and I look forward to partnering with colleagues across campus on this important work. I am particularly excited to serve an institution at which more than a third of students share my experience of being a first-generation college student.”

Macdonald-Dennis grew up in Revere and became the first person in his immediate family to attend college when he enrolled at Framingham State University, where he completed a bachelor’s degree. They went on to complete a Master of Science in College Student Development Counseling at Northeastern University, an EdD in Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts—Amherst, and a Master of Divinity from Lexington Theological Seminary.

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