Vernese Edghill-Walden ’87 Named Bucknell’s Inaugural Vice President of Equity & Inclusive Excellence

February 15, 2023

by Mike Ferlazzo

Vernese Edghill-Walden ’87 is Bucknell's inaugural vice president of equity & inclusive excellence. Photo by Wade Duerkes, Northern Illinois University

Following a nationwide search, Bucknell University has hired alumna Vernese Edghill-Walden '87 as its inaugural vice president of equity & inclusive excellence. Edghill-Walden is currently vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb, Ill., and will join Bucknell on July 31.

Edghill-Walden has more than 30 years of higher education academic leadership experience. She has served in her current position at NIU since June 2020, and also served as interim chief human resources officer for a year during that tenure (June 2020-August 2021). She previously served at NIU as senior associate vice president for academic diversity and chief diversity officer for five years (2015-20).

"I am thrilled that Dr. Edghill-Walden is returning to Bucknell to lead us in the area of equity and inclusive excellence, particularly since she played such a significant role in that area as a student leader," says Bucknell President John Bravman. "She brings a vast amount of higher education academic leadership experience, and we look forward to her guidance as we address key strategic goals in equity and inclusive excellences."

Prior to her time at NIU, Edghill-Walden served for five years in the City Colleges of Chicago, District Office, where she held positions as provost and chief academic officer (2013-15); associate vice chancellor, general education (2012-13); and executive director, academic development (2010-12). She was associate director of research & evaluation for the City Colleges of Chicago, Richard Daley College for three years (2007-10).

She has also held positions as assistant dean and director of the Center for Black Culture and Multicultural Programs at the University of Delaware for 12 years (1988-2000), and alternative housing coordinator and minority student advisor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., for a year (1987-88).

Edghill-Walden led efforts that garnered NIU national awards, including the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine (2021, 2022); the Truth Racial Healing and Transformation Center Grant from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (July 2021); and National Association for Diversity Officers in Higher Education Institutional Excellence Award, Honorable Mention (March 2020). She was also the recipient of the Bucknell University Multicultural Student Services Center's Founders Award (October 2012) for spearheading the creation of the Multi-Culture Center (now called Multicultural Student Services) at Bucknell in 1986.

She co-authored a chapter in the new book The Experiences of Black Women Diversity Practitioners in Historically White Institutions (2023). She is also co-author of A Framework for Advancing Anti-Racism Strategy on Campus (2021), a publication of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, where she has held membership since 2015.

Edghill-Walden earned her bachelor of arts degree in sociology with minors in counseling & human service systems from Bucknell in 1987. She went on to earn both a master of education degree (1992) and Certificate in Community Economic Development (1994) from the University of Delaware, and a doctor of philosophy in sociology (2007) from Howard University.

"I am honored to return to my alma mater. As an undergraduate, Bucknell shaped my career path and sparked my passion for student-centered advocacy and social justice. It undoubtedly led me to a career in higher education," says Edghill-Walden. "I was an engaged student leader and through that engagement I found my passion for diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education.

"I am excited to return to the community where I discovered my passion and purpose for this work," she says. "It is definitely a full circle moment for me. Equity is everyone's work, and I look forward to chartering a vision for us to advance institutional equity and inclusive excellence together."

The vice president of equity & inclusive excellence will plan, lead and coordinate all of the University's diversity, equity and inclusion resources for students, faculty and staff.

Edghill-Walden will be a guest speaker in the Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives & Cultures 2023 Spring Series, giving a free, public talk on Wednesday, March 1, in the Great Room (101/102) in the Hildreth-Mirza Hall Humanities Center.