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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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December 2, 2020

Members of Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board Announced

Board Guides College's Inclusion Goals, Action Plan
Members of Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board Announced
Fourteen members of the Nebraska Business community serve as inaugural members to the College of Business Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board.

The College of Business at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln announced a long-term commitment to diversity and inclusion this summer by pursuing inclusive excellence. Embracing diversity in all forms makes inclusion a top priority.

At their first meeting, board members met in person and via Zoom to discuss the college's goals and their critical tasks, actions and metrics to measure success.
At their first meeting, board members met in person and via Zoom to discuss the college's goals and their critical tasks, actions and metrics to measure success.

To advance inclusion efforts, Dr. Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean, called for nominations from the Nebraska Business community and appointed 14 of the college's community members to serve as the inaugural members of the Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board. The alumni, students, faculty and staff assist with formalizing initiatives and priorities, establishing and tracking goals, and ensuring action and achievement.  

“We believe in the power of every person,” said Farrell. “We accelerated the process of creating a Diversity and Inclusion strategic plan for our college to identify actions we can take to create real change. These board members provided valuable insight in helping create this plan with Rik Barrera (associate dean of student services, inclusion and chief operating officer).”

Barerra was appointed to lead the college’s diversity and inclusion efforts on July 1. His experience in strengths-based leadership and management helps in his expanded role.

“This will require commitment and action from all of us. This is an endeavor where we have to be intentional, commit every day and lead by example,” Barrera said. “After all, if we aren’t inclusive, we fail to fulfill our mission of access and success for all.”

The board's membership represents a wide variety of roles, expertise, involvement and life experiences. With Barrera at the helm, the board includes:

  • Mark Barrera, DREAMBIG Academy coordinator and assistant director of analytics and recruitment
  • Olivia DeRusse, ’18, learning and talent manager for Operation Breakthrough
  • Dr. Ling Harris, assistant professor of accountancy
  • Kayla Huthoefer Nelson, MBA@Nebraska student
  • Dr. Kasey Linde, assistant director of the Teaching and Learning Center
  • Dr. Andre Maciel, assistant professor of marketing
  • Elijah Merritt, sophomore business administration major
  • Edgar Montoya, senior management major
  • Tyrell Ross, ’10 and ’18, director of finance and budget
  • Mikki Sandin, international business and inclusion coordinator
  • Kimberly Smith, associate director of Communications, Marketing and External Relations
  • Augusta Tanner, ’15, organizational excellence lead at Nebraska Medicine
  • Dr. Gwen Combs, associate professor of management and leading diversity and inclusion scholar, serves in an advisory role on the board.

The Diversity and Inclusion strategic plan will be published online as an addendum to the college's strategic plan this winter. While benchmarking and long-term goal setting continue, Barrera and the board kickstarted fostering a greater sense of belonging within the college's community.

A new Inclusive Excellence Gathering Space opened in Howard L. Hawks Hall in October. Serving as a hub for conversation, inclusive programs and gatherings, it helps create a community of belonging.

“We are also expanding our training for faculty and staff and enhancing our business curriculum with a greater focus on diversity and inclusion. Examples include incorporating case studies, class discussion topics, guest speakers and an online library of resources like videos and books to help,” said Farrell.

Though change starts with ourselves, Barrera encourages the Nebraska Business community to do big things like this together.

“We welcome those with experience and insight to help us. We have tremendous alums and business partners who can be great assets in our efforts. We are in this journey together,” said Barrera.

To learn more about the college's commitment to inclusive excellence, related resources and individual advisory board members, visit: