Dr. Kimberly X. Mulligan-Guy Promoted to COSAM Assistant Dean
Dr. Kimberly X. Mulligan-Guy, the director of the Office of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), has been named the Assistant Dean for Inclusion, Equity and Diversity in the college.
“Kim has taken activities that support diversity and inclusion, and incorporated them into every aspect of our college,” explained Dean Nicholas J. Giordano. “These efforts truly make a difference to all of our faculty, staff and students.”
Since Dr. Mulligan-Guy accepted the role in 2016, she has worked hard to change the way inclusion and diversity is perceived in COSAM. She has worked closely with students, faculty and staff to implement new programs and initiatives to bring this goal to fruition.
“When I first got to COSAM, it felt as though diversity was viewed in very black and white terms and that’s not what this office is about,” Dr. Mulligan-Guy said. “We are interested in all aspects of diversity, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, sexual, ability, as well as racial diversity. As far as I’m concerned, diversity is just differences. We’re really working to change what inclusion and diversity means for this college.”
Dr. Mulligan-Guy said she feels like her role in the college is the perfect job for her, but her original career goals were much like many COSAM students. She originally planned to pursue a career as a doctor.
“My mother was very intentional about making sure that the professionals we interacted with in our childhood looked like us. For example my pediatrician, Dr. Cory, was a black woman,” she said. “My parents always made me believe I could do anything I set my mind to and they made sure I had role models that reinforced that notion. I liked science and I did well in school, so I decided I would become a doctor.”
When beginning college at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida, her high school mentor, an orthopedic surgeon, encouraged her to pursue a degree in Chemistry to allow her more career options if she decided on a different path than becoming a doctor. An opportunity during her sophomore year to conduct research lead her on the path to graduate school. She earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in Chemistry from FAMU and relocated to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a Ph.D. in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.
While in graduate school, Dr. Mulligan-Guy started an organization titled the Volunteer Scientist in the Classroom in which graduate students would participate in science projects with young students at local schools. She realized that she enjoyed the outreach initiatives with students and later accepted a post-doc position with the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach.
“We were able to partner with the district to build out science programs within the schools which allowed us to teach science in an interdisciplinary manner, which was a different way that it was normally being taught,” she said. “It was really exciting.”
Dr. Mulligan-Guy worked with the center for five years, during which she had the opportunity to work overseas in Abu Dhabi to help set up STEM programs in their school system. She said the year overseas was one of personal growth.
“I think living in another country and being immersed in the culture gives you a lot of perspective that you wouldn’t have otherwise,” she said. “It also helps you think about challenging some of the biases that you may have that you weren’t even aware of.”
She soon began wondering how she could make a larger impact and work with students from K-12 through college. So, she applied to be the director of the Office of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity at Auburn University and said it was exactly what she was looking for.
“The possibilities were wide open,” she said. “Part of that is because the dean is so supportive of diversity initiatives and he was really interested in seeing them expand. I got the feeling that everybody in the college was invested in increasing the level of engagement in this area.”
Dr. Mulligan-Guy added that she has been encouraged by how supportive Dean Giordano and the rest of the COSAM faculty and staff have been.
“A lot of the things that we do, we wouldn’t be able to do if we didn’t have the complete support of the college,” she said. “When you come to Auburn everyone is always talking about the Auburn Family. I wasn’t sure if that was real when I first came here, but it is. So is the COSAM Family. The initiatives we have been able to put in place would not have been possible without the involvement of faculty, staff, and students across COSAM.”
Dr. Mulligan-Guy said some of the programs and initiatives she is most proud of since her time at Auburn include working with the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering on programs such as the STEM Summer Bridge Program and the Collaborative Approaches among Scientist and Engineers Research Experience for Undergraduates, and the STEM Glide Program during which COSAM students that have never been out of the country receive a fully-funded trip to study water quality in the Dominican Republic. She also recently started a COSAM Inclusive Excellence Committee for faculty and staff to ensure their voices are being heard. But what she is most proud of is the fact that her department has helped COSAM think about diversity in a different way.
“By making this a dean’s position, COSAM is demonstrating how serious we are about inclusion and diversity efforts within this college,” she said.
Dr. Mulligan-Guy said some of the inclusion and diversity goals for the next year include implementing a women’s leadership program for COSAM and a post-doc program to impact faculty diversity. She also plans to focus more on graduate student initiatives.
“I’m going to continue doing the work that I’ve always been doing,” she said. “I don’t think very much is going to change as far as that goes. I’ve treated this position like the possibilities were endless if they pushed our inclusion and diversity efforts, so I’ll treat being the assistant dean for Inclusion, Equity and Diversity the same way.”