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Mount Saint Mary’s University Taps Hines-Gaither as V.P. of Equity, Diversity and Justice
By Cora Jackson-Fossett, Staff Writer
Published February 3, 2022

Krishauna Hines-Gaither (Courtesy photo)

Krishauna Hines-Gaither holds  a Ph.D. in Educational Studies and Cultural Foundations and Master’s degree in Spanish – just two of her many qualifications as the new vice president for equity, diversity and justice at Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU).

Her background reveals that she is highly capable to lead this inaugural initiative at the only women’s university in Los Angeles.  In fact, her wide-ranging experience and education likely influenced her appointment.

Prior to joining MSMU, Hines-Gaither was the inaugural director of diversity and inclusiveness at Salem College, a women’s college in North Carolina and her alma mater.  Moving next to Guilford College in Greensboro, she served as interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and the director of the school’s Intercultural Engagement Center.

Hines-Gaither speaks at the dedication of the Bernadette Gonzaque Robert Center for Equity, Diversity and Justice. (Courtesy photo)

Her accomplishments in both positions included overseeing multicultural student clubs, implementing cross-cultural dialogue sessions and developing cutting-edge equity programming. As a result, North Carolina’s Spectrum News named her a “Voice for Change” in recognition of her commitment to inclusion.

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Interestingly, the new vice president described her entrance into this field as “by default.” Hired as a Spanish professor at Salem, Hines-Gaither was the only full time African American faculty member and often served as a trusted resource to students of color, especially regarding university practices and policies.

Members of the student body often consult with Hines-Gaither about campus life. (Courtesy photo)

“About seven years ago, we had protests on campus and the president of that university called me and she said you’ve been doing this work (advising students) without the title and without the salary. Now that we’re having protests and students have more demands, we really need you in this role,” she recalled.

Yet, Hines-Gaither was hesitant to accept a formal assignment because she accurately felt, “it’s hard work,” and plus, she truly enjoyed teaching.  But, after a close friend told her that her life’s mission loomed beyond the teaching space, she changed her mind.

“My friend said, ‘You have made such a change in the lives of these students, but I feel it’s limited because you’re only working with your own students in your classrooms. If you were to go into administration, you could have the power to impact the entire campus, and not just your singular classroom.’

Hines-Gaither is a leading speaker on race, ethnicity, and gender issues. (Courtesy photo)

“And when she put it to me like that, I knew that there was a work that I was called to that was larger than my own classroom,” Hines-Gaither said.  Since making that transition, she has become a leading speaker, workshop facilitator and scholar on race, ethnicity and gender issues. Also, Routledge Press recently contracted her to write a book on anti-racism.

The next step for Hines-Gaither is to effectively apply all of her experience to her role at MSMU where she will oversee the recently named Bernadette Gonzaque Robert Center for Equity, Diversity and Justice.

Her responsibilities include developing programs to increase diversity of faculty, staff and students at the graduate and undergraduate level; promoting inclusive education and training for all members of the MSMU community; supporting efforts to create diverse and inclusive curriculum; and strengthening MSMU’s engagement through diverse community partnerships.

Working in collaboration with the community is one of Hines-Gaither’s key goals. (Courtesy photo)

In sharing her vision about the Center, Hines-Gaither said, “We will be a cutting-edge training center for students, staff and faculty. We will fulfill the goals of our newly minted strategic plan by increasing representation and increasing our MSMU footprint. We will work diligently to become an anti-racist university. Finally, we will pursue a publishing agenda that tells our story and that sets a standard for other EDJ centers throughout the nation.”

Clearly, her mandate is pretty large, yet she is approaching her job with optimism and enthusiasm. And even though the university is already pretty diverse with 83% students of color, the V.P. believes there is still opportunity for improvement.

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“We cannot assume that because we have many students of color in one place that they are all having equitable experiences,” noted Hines-Gaither.  “I can’t assume that they do not also need support even as it relates to race, but also intersections that may relate to gender and or socioeconomic status or ability or disability.”

Instead, she intends to be guided by a quote from the notable African American author, James Baldwin, who responded to an interviewer’s question about his motivation behind his social activism.  Baldwin’s reply was, “If I love you, I must make you conscious of the things you do not see.”

Aligning her role with the author’s words, Hines-Gaither said, “I see the work that I do as a radical act of love. What I have to share may be what people may not want to hear. However, I see this [work] as loving people, loving community and helping us to be better.”

Looking towards the future, the vice president said establishing closer relationships with local neighborhoods is among her goals. Elaborating, she explained, “We truly want to work alongside of our community to make a positive change. We cannot be an anti-racist campus if we’re not working in collaboration with the community.

“We were founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and social justice is a key tenet of our mission, so it’s key to our Catholic foundational roots as well. We need to support the community where our institution is located, here in the heart of Los Angeles County.”

To learn more about Mount St. Mary’s University, visit msmu.edu.

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