URI hires first director of community and organizational development

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Job to focus on cultural change, diversity and strategic management

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 5, 2015 – The University of Rhode Island has announced the appointment of an administrator who has more than 15 years of experience in student and academic affairs; in housing and residential life, leadership, multicultural affairs, and as an adjunct professor to be URI’s first director of community and organizational development.


In her new post at URI, Vicki T. Sapp is responsible for providing leadership, assessment and organizational development related to cultural change, diversity and strategic vision. She will manage the campus climate survey and needs assessments. Additionally, she will establish programs that strengthen URI’s sense of community and support University departments and college committees in the development of their diversity goals and strategic plans. Sapp will also create and implement educational programs that enhance cultural competencies.


Sapp will draw on her prior experiences at the University of Rochester where she served as an assistant director for Residential Life and Housing Services. In that position Sapp focused on leadership, student development and diversity training for communities such as freshmen, upperclassmen, special interest housing, academic living centers, Greek affairs, student government, and professional and paraprofessional staff trainings. Also, her direct responsibilities for social justice curriculum development, teaching, recruitment, selection and hiring of staff and her service as a hearing officer to adjudicate student code of conduct violations for the Office of the Dean of Students will assist her at URI.


Sapp’s position at the University at Buffalo as an associate director of the Intercultural and Diversity Center was under the umbrella of Student Life. As associate director, she collaborated with and conducted diversity workshops for academic readiness programs, Admissions, Educational Opportunity Program, Student Support Services, Ronald E. McNair, Academic Challenge and Enrichment Center and Daniel Acker Scholars programs. During her tenure at UB her work with strategic planning, needs assessment results and benchmarking efforts resulted in her successfully securing a 2,075 square-foot space for the University’s first cultural center.


Additionally, Sapp’s scholarly work focuses on college access, first-generation college students and social justice advocacy. Sapp served as an adjunct professor at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. She has also presented her research at conferences; Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, Association for the Study of Higher Education and Association for Equity and Excellence in Education.


Sapp reports to Naomi Thompson, URI associate vice president of Community, Equity and Diversity. “We are delighted that Ms. Sapp has joined the University community,” Thompson said. “She brings a wealth of experience from a variety of positions in higher education. Her leadership in university housing, student conflict management, an accreditation process for fraternities and sororities and multicultural affairs will serve her well at URI and help us move forward in building community and equity here. All members of the community will find her warm and enthusiastic.”


Sapp states that her philosophical practices of equipping diverse communities from diverse life and educational experiences with the tools to empower themselves, take responsibility for their actions and behavior, and to serve a global world as the cornerstone of her success. She is pursing a doctorate in higher education leadership at the University of Rochester and earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Buffalo State College.


Photo by Nora Lewis