Natasha Flowers, assistant dean for anti-racism, equity and inclusion in the SIUE School of Education, Health and Human Behavior.

“We all have been charged with directing our full attention to what is inoperable in a racist context, and what is possible and powerful when racism is addressed. I am honored and ready to work in this capacity at SIUE.”

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Education, Health and Human Behavior (SEHHB) Dean Robin Hughes, PhD, has selected Natasha Flowers, PhD, as the School’s assistant dean for anti-racism, equity and inclusion after a national search. Flowers assumed her new responsibilities on July 1.

Flowers arrives at SIUE after spending the past 18 years in a variety of academic capacities at IUPUI in Indianapolis, including the past 14 as a clinical associate professor in the IU School of Education. During her IUPUI tenure, she also served as a director of the Office for Multicultural Professional Development, an instructional design specialist in the IUPUI Center for Teaching and Learning, and an instructor of adult learning.

Hughes had been considering the requisite qualities for the right candidate for some time before selecting Flowers. “First, I knew that the school needed someone who has a deep commitment towards equity and anti-racism,” Hughes said. “Not just a verbal display, but a real history of ‘doing the work’ – good equity work in schools, someone who has made a tangible and positive impact in schools. Dr. Flowers is highly connected, supports student teachers and is also connected to communities. She is the perfect fit.”

Meanwhile, Flowers was attracted to SIUE by Hughes’ reputation and the University’s anti-racism effort. “When Dr. Robin Hughes joined SIUE as the dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior, I took notice,” Flowers said. “SIUE welcomed her scholarship and years of activism in education. And, who would not be compelled by the expertise within the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior, the campus’ Anti-Racism Task Force, the hiring of Dr. Jessica Harris as the inaugural vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, the campus administration’s focus on Black student success, and its overall climate for inclusion?”

Flowers expects to connect with students, faculty, and staff in and outside of the SEHHB. “Listening and sharing experiences, especially in the context of privilege and oppression, will support the dialogue that has already begun,” she said.

Flowers will work toward a multidimensional, thorough approach to advocacy, curriculum and program development, and policy review that emphasizes the impact of individuals and the power of the collective. “I am here as someone who has seen and participated in institutional level transformation that evolved from student activism with a small, but mighty group of invested faculty and staff,” she said. “We all have been charged with directing our full attention to what is inoperable in a racist context, and what is possible and powerful when racism is addressed. I am honored and ready to work in this capacity at SIUE.”

Hughes affirmed that Flowers is a leading expert in faculty and leadership development. “Dr. Flowers served with Dr. Nancy Chism, a leader in the field of faculty development. There are many current administrators who owe their success to Dr. Flowers,” Hughes said. “She supplied support when new assistant professors applied for grants and prepared dossiers. This is particularly timely as we have hired so many newly minted assistant professors—her expertise is needed! Plus, she is a world class writer and editor.”

Prior to her ascendancy to academic leadership at IUPUI, Flowers served Indiana State University (ISU) from 1995-2000 where she was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Media Technology, a writing tutor in the Writing Center and a coordinator in the Women’s Resource Center. She also was an English instructor at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana in 1998.

Hughes added that Flowers is a systems thinker, who understands that institutions of higher education are supposed to work for the greater good. “She is unselfish with her time, energy and efforts,” Hughes said. “She has already prepared to work with the East St. Louis Center, has concepts on launching a robust program in urban education and will work quickly to bring folks to the table to make great decisions about schooling. She is absolutely what we needed as part of our team.”

A West Point, Mississippi native, Flowers earned a bachelor’s in English in 1995 from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, a master’s in American and English Literature from ISU in 2000, and a doctorate in philosophy from ISU in 2007.

The SIUE School of Education, Health and Human Behavior prepares students in a wide range of fields including public health, exercise science, nutrition, instructional technology, psychology, speech-language pathology and audiology, educational administration and teaching and learning. Faculty members engage in leading-edge research, which enhances teaching and enriches the educational experience. The School supports the community through on-campus clinics, outreach to children and families, and a focused commitment to enhancing individual lives across the region.

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