Richard J. Pappas, EdD

President, Davenport University

The INSIGHT Into Diversity Giving Back Award honors college presidents and chancellors who go above and beyond their everyday duties to give back to their institutions and communities. President Pappas was nominated by colleagues and selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity as a 2016 Giving Back Award recipient for his dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion and encouraging community service both on his campus and in the surrounding community. 

Civic Involvement
Board chairman of the local United Way; board member of West Michigan’s President’s Compact Committee, which is devoted to promoting anti-racism on member campuses

Faculty Community Service
To support community engagement, Pappas supported the creation of a Voluntary Time Off policy for university faculty and staff, which provides each employee up to three days per year that they can use to volunteer in the community.

Established Initiative
Alpha League, an African American Male Fraternity focused on attracting, retaining, and graduating African American males by promoting brotherhood to men of diverse ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds

Leading by Example
Based on feedback from the university’s first-ever diversity audit, Pappas created the position of executive director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and formed a cross- functional DEI Council to integrate diversity efforts into the university’s culture. He also supported the development and delivery of three levels of DEI training and education over three years and required all employees to attend — starting with himself.

Nomination Excerpt
“Under President Pappas’ leadership, Davenport University has increased the diversity of the faculty and staff, enhanced the culture, increased awareness of the value of diversity, become the only private institution to implement same-sex domestic partner benefits, and coordinated efforts with other universities to improve the recruitment, retention, and graduation of minorities. As a result of Pappas’ efforts, Davenport University has the second most diverse student population in the state of Michigan, with minorities representing 30 percent.”