Kudos to Kristine Rodriguez Kerr, EdD, academic director and clinical associate professor for the MS in Professional Writing at the NYU SPS Center for Applied Liberal Arts. Rodriguez Kerr has been named a Diversity Leadership Scholar and will participate in the Bethaida “Bea” Gonzalez Diversity in Leadership Scholars Program, established by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) last year.
Rodriguez Kerr is the second Diversity in Leadership Scholar from the NYU SPS community. In 2020, Billie Gastic Rosado, associate dean of Liberal Arts, Languages, and Post-Traditional Undergraduate Studies, received this award in the program’s inaugural year. As a Diversity in Leadership Scholar, Rodriguez Kerr will join an accomplished cohort of higher education professionals in a series of online professional development programs that center upon the importance of representative and diverse leadership.
Diversity and inclusivity in education have always been a key focus for Rodriguez Kerr, who identifies as Hispanic-American and is the first woman in her family to earn a college degree. “I became committed to professional, continuing, and online education as a way to provide avenues of social mobility and economic stability for traditional and post-traditional learners,” said Rodriguez Kerr.
As the number of Hispanic and Latinx students is increasing at institutions of higher education, recent studies have shown that less than 4% of full-time faculty members in the United States identify as female and Hispanic or Latina. “It is important for all students to have visible role models and meaningful interactions with diverse faculty members and school leaders,” Rodriguez Kerr stated.
In addition to teaching in the MS in Professional Writing (MSPW), Rodriguez Kerr oversees curriculum updates, industry partner relationships, and the advising of incoming and graduating students. She believes that programs like the MSPW, which are online by design, provide students with access to higher education and location flexibility that many graduate students seek to balance with lives that are already busy and complex. “The MSPW ethos is to meet students wherever they are and help them develop as writers and professionals.”
The Bethaida “Bea” Gonzalez Diversity in Leadership Scholars Program is named for a former dean of University College at Syracuse University, who retired last year after 36 years of service. Gonzalez also served as a former UPCEA president. Founded in 1915, UPCEA serves more than 350 leading public and private colleges and universities across North America.