Bobby Berry aims to make an impact on inclusivity in his new position


Devon Sipes/ The Sunflower

Bobby Berry, new assistant dean of diversity and outreach for the college of applies studies, wants to create a culture of empathy on campus in his position. He said everything he does at the university is for the students.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article said that Berry was pursuing his doctorate.  Berry already received his doctorate, and this version reflects the changes.

Wichita State alumni Bobby Berry, who was recently named assistant dean of diversity and outreach for the college of applied studies, has plans to strategically create a campus culture that is guided by empathy. 

Berry said that when talking about inclusive excellence, it means elevating and growing inclusiveness in classrooms, the amount of faculty of color, and also growing the number of students of color in programs.

“The way we do that is being a little more intentional,” Berry said.  “How can we do that if we don’t have those perspectives at the table?”

Berry received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science, as well as a masters in exercise science education. He also has a doctorate in educational leadership. Berry did this all while being one of few Black students in his classes. He was often a leader, which meant he would sometimes stand by himself. 

“One of things that I specifically said was my identities were going to be a huge asset to this role,” Berry said.  “One, I am a Black male, there are not a lot of me in these types of positions. Two, I am a former student and alumni of this same college. 

“So for me, having the experience of being faculty and being a student that was also in some of these same classrooms, I am bringing a different perspective to the table.”

While it can be scary to engage with others that are not like you, Berry said that the goal is to have a conversation and try to learn about another’s perspective. Berry said that this role embodies all that he does, and he wants to give back to the college that gave so much to him.

“How do we think strategically not only about preparing our students to engage with people who don’t look like them, but how do we also show these same people that we value them and want them here?” Berry said. “A lot of my life’s work and other work I have been doing, is how do we elevate the voices of marginalized folks.”

Berry said that his job is not about invalidating experiences or perspectives, but to give students perspective.  He said that a diverse environment could possibly not be inclusive, while an inclusive environment might not be diverse.

“For me, it is creating an environment within our faculty, within our classrooms, so people feel empowered to ask questions,” Berry said.  “There is no change that comes without people being able to have conversations and learn something. And if you feel that you can’t ask a question that means this isn’t an inclusive environment.”

Berry said that he does things because he cares, and if he isn’t making his voice heard as a Black man, there might not be anyone else who is able to speak to that perspective.  He feels obligated to the students to be that person for them.

“People are always watching when you don’t think they are,” Berry said.  “I enjoy what I do, I’m passionate, I love the students, I love making an impact. As long as I’m making, even a small impact, that’s good enough for me.”