Shari Lynn Robinson brings decades of work around social justice, anti-racism, LGBTQIA+, and diversity, equity, and inclusion to the inaugural DEI director role

In April, the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS) welcomed Shari Lynn Robinson as its very first director of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). CCAPS has long promoted DEI, formalizing these endeavors in 2019 with the creation of an Inclusivity Council aimed at creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment; increasing staff and faculty diversity representation; and spreading awareness among staff of issues around DEI. After the murder of George Floyd in 2020 made obvious the need to more actively address systemic racism and other injustices, the College further solidified its commitment to integrating DEI best practices with the formation of the DEI Council, which led the creation of the Compact Priorities for FY 2022–2025, the Strategic Priorities FY 2022–2025, and the DEI director role.

Shari has a long history in higher education and activism in the social justice arena in colleges across the US. Career highlights include developing and teaching graduate-level social work courses and professional development training on aging, anti-Blackness, anti-racism, Black fatigue and Black joy, queer and trans studies, race, and whiteness. She has also created cultural anthropology courses at community colleges and equitable and anti-oppressive professional practice workshops for social work professionals. 

Shari Robinson stands with her right hand on hip gazing off into the distance, flowering trees and brick building in background


“I look forward to working with Shari to deepen my own understanding of DEI leadership and to CCAPS becoming a model that others can follow,” says CCAPS Dean Bob Stine. “Shari brings to us a wealth of knowledge and experience working on DEI in higher education. She has been the inaugural leader in many of her past positions, which made her a great fit for our work in CCAPS. She is intent on building community both inside and outside the college, which will strengthen our programs and the experiences of our learners. And it has become evident that she is about actions, not just words, which I greatly appreciate.”

“This just feels right for me, I can’t describe it,” says Shari who, in addition to shaping the new role, is also co-authoring a social work textbook on race, racism, and anti-racist social practices with Springer Publishing, due out in fall 2024. “As much as I like creating things from scratch, the team is already in the second year of its strategic plan so I won’t have to do a lot of the time-consuming work that can slow up the movement toward actual work. That was one of the first things I thought of when I was learning about the position: the Council and the leadership team are already connected and already doing the work and they have a baseline knowledge and skill.”

As the DEI director, Shari will provide guidance and expertise on DEI issues and develop and lead DEI initiatives, such as increasing faculty and employee representation of marginalized communities. She says chief among her many goals is student success.

Everything I’ve seen so far around DEI at CCAPS centers on the student experience and I want to expand on that.

“I have a lot of ideas and a lot of things I want to tackle, with the student experience as the central focus,” Shari says. “Everything I’ve seen so far around DEI at CCAPS centers on the student experience and I want to expand on that. That means everything from marketing to alumni to teaching and learning. I’ll be doing some listening sessions and meeting with the CCAPS student council. And I’m planning the first-ever Teaching and Learning Symposium for fall 2023, with cohesive training around DEI for our instructors.”

While digging into the new role, Shari is also exploring her new surroundings on the Saint Paul campus. “I’m excited about this beautiful campus. Coffey Hall, where I work, is right across from that beautiful park, so close to the Meat and Dairy store, which I’ve already gone through twice. Lots of things to look forward to, so that’s cool.”

Want to get involved in advancing CCAPS’s DEI goals? Contact Shari at