Modeling Diversity and Inclusion for Higher Education

By Karla Amador

Waltham, MA — Brandeis University is a nonsectarian private research institution recognized as a global center for higher education, research and development, and innovation. In 2015, Brandeis University experienced the Ford Hall Demonstrations, a student-led social movement calling for a greater commitment to diversity and inclusion among students, educators, and administrators.

Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Ph.D., selected to lead this new era of inclusion for Brandeis, is responsible for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty. He also oversees the Intercultural Center, Gender and Sexuality Center, the Chaplaincy, and the Ombuds staff, a unique team who provide independent, impartial, and confidential support for Brandeis students, staff, faculty, and alumni who wish to address their pressing concerns off the record.

Dr. Brimhall-Vargas has a Ph.D. in social foundations of education from the University of Maryland and holds a Master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His academic expertise includes social justice and identity development. Before arriving at Brandeis, Dr. Brimhall-Vargas served as Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Provost at Tufts University.

“My motivation stems from the students and their commitment to becoming agents of social change. And my greatest reward comes from knowing Brandeis University embraces and celebrates social justice as a cornerstone of its culture,” he explained.

“Brandeis has the heritage and the heart to be a role model for creating more inclusive campuses. From its very beginning in 1948 as an open, nonsectarian institution, Brandeis has made a commitment to accepting students from all backgrounds. We are currently working on reinvigorating the campus, using research and policy development from Lurie Institute for Disability Policy and the Ruderman Foundation to address what is an inclusion issue, not a compliance issue,” he said.

Brandeis will help foster a new approach for serving students with disabilities and become a model for disability and inclusion in higher education.

Dr. Brimhall-Vargas recognizes the importance of struggling for a better world. With the Ford Hall Demonstrations in mind, he makes an effort to mentor his students, especially those interested in DE&I leadership.

“Positive social change is possible, and it’s important to invite people who might not otherwise be engaged in these kinds of struggles. In doing so, we give people the opportunity to create positive relationships as allies,”


Dr. Brimhall-Vargas will serve as a panelist for the Role of Empathy Panel Discussion at the inaugural Health & Life Sciences Conference taking place Thursday, March 22, from 12-6 PM. Sponsored by Color Magazine and Biogen.