UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby has appointed Tanyka M. Barber as the university’s inaugural vice president for institutional equity and chief diversity officer. She will officially join the UMBC community on Monday, April 17.
“This role is of critical importance and value to UMBC’s long-held vision for inclusive excellence,” says President Sheares Ashby. “We all will benefit from the exceptional depth and breadth of expertise, along with the strength of commitment that Tanyka will bring to the work.”
Sharing what drew her to the role, Barber notes, “I desired a position at an institution that had a genuine commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
“Being a Maryland native,” she says, “I was familiar with UMBC and its stellar academic and research reputation, and as I progressed through the hiring process, the genuine commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion was evident. That is what confirmed for me that this was a place I wanted to be.”
Public health to civil rights
Barber holds a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University, a master of health sciences degree from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a law degree from the University of Baltimore.
She joins UMBC from TNG, one of the nation’s largest education-focused law and consulting practices, where she served as partner. TNG serves K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and other organizations, and Barber had the opportunity to work with a wide range of educational institutions nationwide.
Prior to her work with TNG, Barber served as director of diversity and EEO/Title IX coordinator at Morgan State University. There she drafted Morgan State’s first comprehensive policy and procedures to address gender- and sex-based harassment and violence. She also developed and implemented a comprehensive Title IX grievance process and prevention policy, and prioritized initiatives seeking to prevent discrimination and harassment and to increase reporting.
In addition to these roles, Barber has worked as the equal employment opportunity officer for Baltimore County Public Schools, assistant general counsel for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, and a law clerk for the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau. Prior to earning her law degree, she also held roles in public health with Morgan State University and the NAACP.
“My background is in health education and policy, and I worked in the public health field for seven years prior to attending law school,” Barber explains. “My intention upon starting law school was to gain a firmer foundation in health policy. However, during my second year of law school I began working at the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights and I was hooked. My passion for advancing civil rights and ensuring equitable access grew from there.”
National and local leadership
Barber frequently writes about Title IX topics, sharing best practices. She also serves in leadership roles, such as on the advisory board for the Association of Title IX Administrators and on the board of directors for Community Law in Action, a Baltimore-based nonprofit focused on helping young people become leaders and advocates for positive community change.
“It is to UMBC’s great advantage that in this inaugural vice presidential role, we will have a leader whose career has been as a practitioner in both the legal compliance space and the diversity, equity, and inclusion space,” says President Sheares Ashby. “We also will have someone whose personal perspective, including as a first-generation college student and a nontraditional law school student, deeply informs her understanding of this work and the communities she serves.”
Of her own experience, Barber says, “As a college student, I stepped onto campus with no frame of reference for college life beyond what was portrayed on television. Since then, my career path has focused on strategizing, implementing, and enacting change.”
Barber shares, “I want to be a partner and a resource to ensure that UMBC students, faculty, and staff have what they need to navigate the UMBC community and achieve success as they define it. I am eager to engage those already doing this work at UMBC and to bring new voices to the table.”