Jane N. Irungu, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies
Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence
Office of the Senior Vice President & Provost
B.Ed., Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya
At SWCHRS, Dr. Irungu provides strategic leadership and supervision for center programs and initiatives whose mission of advancing professional learning, training, research and knowledge dissemination on issues related to race, diversity, equity, inclusion, advocacy, leadership, organizational culture, social justice, inclusive systems and practices is critical to the university’s vision of inclusive excellence. Additionally, she is Associate Provost of Inclusive Excellence. In this role, Dr. Irungu coordinates education and training for inclusive excellence in academic initiatives, contributes to the institution's efforts on recruitment and hiring of diverse faculty, and partners with campus stakeholders on programs that promote faculty development and education on diversity, equity and inclusion issues at department and college levels.
Dr. Irungu has more than three decades of experience in the field of education, organizational management and intercultural relations. She has worked extensively with K-12, higher education, and other related private and public educational and state organizations in the U.S. and in Africa.
Prior to joining the University of Oklahoma (OU) in 2017, Dr. Irungu held different positions at the University of Oregon (UO): Assistant Vice President of Intercultural Initiatives in the Division of Student Life; Assistant Vice President of Student Engagement and Director of the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence in the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; Director of Graduation and Post-Graduation Success, and Associate Director, Office of Multicultural Academic Success.
During her tenure at UO, her portfolio included, among others: oversight of programs for historically underserved, underrepresented, first-generation, undocumented and international students' network of support; faculty and staff resource groups; leadership development and training; scholarship administration, community outreach and pipeline programs, ethnic organizations, social justice initiatives through the multicultural center, and post-graduation success. Dr. Irungu also served in numerous campus-wide committees, was an elected member of the Officers of Administration Staff Council and participated in strategic planning initiatives focusing on student success, campus diversity, equity and inclusion and many others.
Prior to joining UO, she held different professional positions at the University of Kansas in Lawrence (1998-2010): Associate Director of the federally funded Title VI Kansas African Studies Center; Program Director with the Office of International Programs; Outreach and Foreign Languages Coordinator, and Lecturer in the Department of African and African American Studies. Besides her majors in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies/Higher Education Administration, Dr. Irungu has certificates in African Studies and in Gender and Women Studies; is multilingual, and provides consultancy in curriculum design, translation and interpretation in her two native languages, Swahili and Kikuyu (Gīkūyū); diversity and inclusion initiatives, strategic planning, cross-cultural/intercultural communication, program evaluation; student engagement and success. She has been a member and contributor in several national organizations including Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education: NASPA, Association of International Educators: NAFSA, The Global Community for Academic Advising: NACADA, and the International Association of Student Affairs and Services: IASAS, among others. Irungu has received several awards for her outstanding work and leadership as an educator and a champion for social justice. She is also the author of "Engaging Students for Success: International Students in U.S. Higher Education Institutions." From August 2018 to January 2020, she served as the Interim Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working collaboratively with others on campus to advance OU’s goals of building a diverse, equitable and inclusive university.
As a first-generation college student, Dr. Irungu believes education must be a transformational tool; transforming and improving the quality of life for individuals and communities at large.
Office Manager and Assistant to Executive Director
Katherine joined our team February 2018 as the Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies. Before joining our team, she worked the past 16 years for the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma where she held the positions of Program Manager, HR, Property and Procurement and Program Coordinator for the CCDF program. Katherine has received her Administrative Assistant I & II and Business Core Competency Certificates from Caddo-Kiowa Technology Center in Ft. Cobb, Oklahoma. She has also attend Cameron University and Comanche Nation College.
She is a member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma and comes from Kiowa descent as well. She and her husband Daniel moved to Norman in September 2017. She has three children and three grandchildren, whom she loves spending time with. Now that she has seen her children through high school and one through college, she is inspired to continue to pursue her education in Business Administration which she plans to do in the near future.
Corey Davidson is the Assistant to the Program Manager for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE). He acts as NCORE liaison, working with the NCORE Program Manager throughout the year to create the digital Guidebook and hardcopy program guide.
From summer 2015 through summer 2018, Corey worked on behalf of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies as a trained Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator, assisting with the University of Oklahoma's Freshmen Diversity and Inclusion Experience as their Small Group Facilitator Coordinator.
Mr. Davidson earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma with a double major in African and African-American Studies and Film and Video Studies. He is currently working on his master's of Human Relations at the University of Oklahoma, with a focus on Social Justice. Before joining the NCORE Team, he spent time working as a Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Specialist, working primarily with third and fourth graders in Oklahoma City. He was also a freelance videographer and editor.
He enjoys spending quality time with his cat, Atticus, long-boarding, and both critically analyzing and leisurely reading comic books.
Justin has served the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) for over 15 years. As Program Manager, he is responsible for orchestrating the efforts of NCORE staff to organize and develop the conference. He also manages the on-site conference event. Justin first joined the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies (SWCHRS) in 2001 as a temporary employee, working to update and digitize the NCORE mailing system. Over the years, he has served the conference in various capacities, including webmaster, marketing and public relations coordinator, exhibit coordinator, and audiovisual coordinator. He has also served as the secretary and coordinator for the activities of the NCORE National Advisory Council and the SWCHRS Executive Committee.
Justin developed a deep commitment to act in support of social justice and racial equity projects through his service to and emersion into the community of the NCORE conference. While a staff member of the Southwest Center, he also gained experience as intergroup dialogue facilitator, leading numerous dialogues on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. He has also facilitated caucus groups focused on anti-racist consciousness raising amongst white people. Justin has been a student of numerous developmental trainings focused on change making to create more just and equitable institutions. He is grateful for the opportunities he has had to attend trainings organized by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, the Social Justice Training Institute and the White Privilege Conference.
Prior to joining the Southwest Center, Justin served in the United States military as a highly decorated Weather Forecaster for the Air Force Air National Guard.
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Victoria is currently interning for the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies. In her role, Victoria assists the team in ensuring that all tasks are done in a timely, efficient manner. Victoria is a Junior at the University of Oklahoma studying Sociology/Criminology with a minor in Restorative Justice. Victoria’s passion lies in recreating a criminal justice system that provides fair and just treatment to people of color. She strives to make a difference in the Black community that has been marginalized and disproportionately affected by our Criminal Justice system.
Victoria says she has gained so much valuable knowledge about what goes on behind the scenes of NCORE. Victoria enjoys her time at NCORE because it gives students a platform to teach their peers and educators about topics that they might not have space for in other settings. After her time as an undergraduate, she is planning on going to law school and she plans to take these skills and lessons with her in order to help build a justice system that provides fair and just treatment to people of all races, genders, and sexual identifications.
Born and raise in Norman, Oklahoma, Victoria is excited to continue to make her hometown an inclusive, equal, and diverse place where differences are celebrated. She is involved with Black Student Association, and also serves on the executive team for an organization named Women of Power, an organization that provides resources and safe spaces for women of color to strengthen friendships and build community.
Kathie has coordinated more than 200 conferences and events in her career. Her work includes searching for future conference venues and hotels, negotiating contracts, and making all kinds of logistical arrangements. She earned a Certified Meeting Professional designation in 2007 and a Master of Education in 2016.
Kathie creates jewelry, loves traveling, and can connect most everything in life to a Lyle Lovett song or an episode of Friends.
Debbie O’Dell came to work for the University in the fall of 2009. In January of 2012, Debbie joined SWCHRS as the Account and Budget Representative. Within this role, she is the exhibitor and advertising liaison for the NCORE Conference and also manages all contracting, from speakers to vendors, for NCORE and the Center.
In her spare time Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children, volunteering, and game night with friends.
Graduate Research Assistant
Stephanie Salyer grew up outside a small town in Missouri. She earned her Mass Communication degree, with an emphasis in TV and Film, from Southeast Missouri State University. She also double minored in Creative Writing and Anthropology, and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
During her time at Southeast, Salyer earned five different endowed scholarships, was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the Sigma Tau Delta English International Honor Society. In 2017, she was given the “Outstanding Student of the Year” award from the Mass Media department.
Salyer recently graduated with Honors and Distinction from the University of Central Arkansas, earning a Master of Fine Arts in Film.