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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Get to know Amelious Whyte, CLA’s new interim director of DEI

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts starts the new year with new leadership.
Image by David Stager
Dr. Amelious N. Whyte Jr., PhD, poses for a portrait in his office in Johnston Hall. Dr. Whyte was recently named the new Interim Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Minnesota.

Amelious Whyte stepped into his new role as the interim director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) on Jan. 11.

Interviewing over Zoom, Whyte had the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., behind him as a virtual background, echoing his leadership in CLA’s Dream Initiative in 2023, which celebrated the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Such details are characteristic of Whyte’s dedication to the principles of DEI, both professionally and personally.

“For us to do what we need to do in this space, we need to transform things,” Whyte said. “We need to change how we do things so that it becomes part of the culture. So it’s not something ‘Amelious did,’ and if Amelious is gone, it stops. It just becomes part of the way we operate.”

Whyte said he learned about the new position before going on vacation but did not begin the transition until he returned to work on Jan. 2. Whyte was the former assistant dean of DEI and public engagement for CLA. 

Whyte is succeeding Malinda Lindquist, the former associate dean of DEI for CLA, and hopes to build upon the work of his predecessor.

 Lindquist is responsible for having established the Office of DEI in CLA in 2021. The Office of DEI provides leadership and support in areas of racial equity and justice, including work culture, action plans to narrow student equity gaps and retention of faculty and staff, CLA spokesperson Tessa Eagan said in an email to The Minnesota Daily. 

 DEI plays an important role in CLA as a cornerstone of its roadmap. To advance this, Whyte said he plans on collaborating with and listening to others and finding ways for people not directly involved with DEI to contribute to this work.

When considering his previous work, Whyte mentions his “Points of Pride,” a document that details all of his accomplishments for every role he has held at the University.

“I often will say to people, ‘The U’s been good to me,’ and people will say, ‘Well, you’ve been good to it,’” Whyte said.

Whyte has worked at the University professionally since 1993, beginning as the assistant to the vice president of student affairs, ending up in CLA in 2015.

Despite his previous positions not requiring him to do so, Whyte involved himself in DEI-related committees. He helped create CLA’s Equity Lens Policy Review Committee in 2018 to review all policy in CLA through an equity lens while he was the college’s director of public engagement.

“When I think about my work, even though DEI was not a part of my responsibility, it was how I did my work,” Whyte said. “I’d find ways to make a difference in that space.”

Louis Clark, assistant dean for advancement in CLA, has worked directly with Whyte for five years.

“To a degree, he’s a bit of an institution,” Clark said. “A lot of people will point you in his direction.”

According to Clark, the work at the Office of DEI impacts both a diverse faculty and a diverse student body — 63% of American Indian students and 57% of African American students are enrolled in CLA

“When Dr. Lindquist was hired to lead the team, I thought one of the smartest things that she could do was be able to recruit Dr. Whyte to join the team, and he did,” Clark said. “He’s personified it a lot longer, and now he gets a chance to lead. We’re incredibly lucky.”

Whyte first came to the University of Minnesota in the fall of 1990 and enrolled in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to pursue his masters degree in public affairs. Later, he went on to get his doctorate degree in organizational leadership and policy development at the College of Education and Human Development 

Darwin Hendel, an associate professor emeritus and Whyte’s doctoral advisor, said Whyte’s education and experiences at the University give him an invaluable foundation for understanding the complexities of a large and diverse research university.

“Amelious has a personality that’s well suited to work with individuals from diverse backgrounds with diverse interests, some of which may not always be consistent with each other,” Hendel said.

Interim Dean of CLA Ann Waltner expressed in an email her gratitude for Whyte’s decision to serve as the interim director and said she is confident he will continue to grow the DEI work that began under his predecessor.

“Dr. Whyte has been a leader in the University of Minnesota community for over two decades,” Waltner continued, “and an integral colleague in CLA’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion since the office was created.”

Correction: A previous version of the article misstated an original job title for Whyte. He began as the Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs.

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