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Dr. Karen Downing To Be Diversity Research Center's First Visiting Scholar

Dr. Karen Downing
Dr. Karen Downing

Dr. Karen Downing has accepted the invitation to be the first Visiting Scholar for the new Diversity Research Center at Rutgers University. Dr. Downing is a highly regarded and knowledgeable researcher and advocate for diversity issues in libraries and higher education, more broadly. Her research has addressed many aspects of diversity in libraries, including social identity and professional roles in academe, race as a dynamic and social construct, biracialism and multiracialism, and the role of diversity and peer teaching and learning. She is currently the University Learning Communities Liaison and Foundation & Grants Librarian at University of Michigan. In more than 20 years at the University of Michigan, she has also held the positions of Assistant to the Dean of Libraries for Cultural Diversity and Staff Development Officer and Coordinator of Academic Outreach Services. In 2009, she received the American Library Association's Equality Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions in promoting equality in the library profession. She is a frequent speaker and has published many journal articles and two books, Reaching a Diverse Student Community and Multiracial America: A Resource Guide on the History and Literature of Interracial Issues.

She earned a doctorate from the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, the Masters of Information and Library Studies, and an undergraduate degree in the History of Art, all from the University of Michigan.

The Diversity Research Center's mission includes conducting research associated with the relationship between diversity and organizational performance, conducting institutional research and assessment related to academic preparation and student learning in the university setting, conducting and supporting diversity research among the more than 120,000 libraries in the U.S., and promoting the dissemination of diversity research.

The Diversity Research Center is a part of the John Cotton Dana Library on the Rutgers-Newark campus. For the past 14 years, U.S. News and World Report has ranked universities on the basis of diversity. U.S. News has ranked Rutgers-Newark the most diverse national university in the United States every year since the publication began assessing diversity.

As the Center's Visiting Scholar during 2010-2011, Dr. Downing will be in residence at Michigan, advise the Center on its research agenda, and collaborate on research to be conducted during the year and beyond. She will make a public presentation, entitled "Why and How Diversity Matters in Libraries and on Campuses," on March 7, 2011, at the Dana Library at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. [Update: Dr. Downing's presentation slides are now available.]

Dr. Karen Downing

Dr. Karen Downing

"It was with tremendous enthusiasm that we invited Karen Downing to be the first Visiting Scholar for the Diversity Research Center. Karen is well known and highly regarded as the ideal leader, who represents the epitome of the commitment to diversity, as a knowledgeable researcher, an experienced librarian and administrator, and an advocate, in many professional contexts. She also brings a depth of knowledge of the University of Michigan's efforts to foster diversity in the recruitment of students, amidst substantial legal challenges. There is absolutely no one who is better qualified to play such a key role in the Center's development and success."

Mark Winston, Assistant Chancellor and Director, John Cotton Dana Library

"Given Dr. Downing's expertise in the area of diversity issues, the Visiting Scholar position at Rutgers University is an excellent opportunity for both Dr. Downing and Rutgers University. This position will extend Dr. Downing's current research as well as allow her to contribute to the mission and goals of the Diversity Research Center at Rutgers."

Dr. Deborah F. Carter, Immediate Past Chair,
Center for the Study of Higher & Postsecondary Education
University of Michigan

Posted September 2010; updated March 2011