Steven H. Kenney, Jr.
Assistant Vice President for Human Resources Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
How do you view your role as chief diversity and inclusion officer on campus?
I view it as being the person or the conduit to ensure that all diversity and inclusion efforts are streamlined. We have many programs already in place that support diversity and inclusion. However, they are not under the umbrella of diversity and inclusion. Me being a chief diversity and inclusion officer allows all diversity and inclusion efforts to funnel through one general source to streamline the process. But I really believe that the mission around diversity and inclusion is not the task of one person. We are all in this together, and we all support diversity and inclusion.
How do you plan to use your role to better incorporate/listen to Nicholls’ black students?
We have individuals that think of diversity and inclusion only in terms of race and gender, but it is so much more. We have students that identify as LGBTQ+, and we will incorporate those voices into the initiatives at the university. We have students from the United Houma Nation Tribe, and we need to place a great focus on them. We have students who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. First-generation students are another form of diversity. It’s making sure that everyone has a seat at the table. I was having a conversation, and we had someone on campus make the comment, ‘I’ll help anyway that I can, but I’m just an old white guy.’ And I’m like, no, we need everyone at the table. Conversations will never be limited. Everyone will be a part of the conversations.
Specifically regarding students of color on campus, I believe that there is a need for them to identify the tools and resources available to them. I will help them identify and discover what tools and resources are available. While it is important that we hear their voices, it can’t stop there. They need to see that we are taking actions based on the feedback that they have given us.
Tell me about the bow ties.
I started wearing bow ties probably in 2002 or 2003. I saw an article in a magazine, and the gentleman had a bow tie on. I wouldn’t say I’m a fashionista by any means, but I’m really big into clothing and things of that nature. So, I thought, I can replicate this look, and I went out and bought a bow tie. And when I tried to tie the bow tie, it was a little difficult because you look at the pictures they give you when you buy a bow tie, or you look at an online diagram. It’s not as intuitive as they try to make it seem in those few simple steps. So it became a challenge for me to actually learn how to tie the bow tie. Since I learned how to, I have not worn a regular tie. Today, I probably have close to 200 bowties. It is an art form and very addictive as well. All of my bow ties are self tied, I don’t buy any pre-tied, so it is a craft. It is also like therapy, to sit there and make sure you are tying the perfect bow.