Shaya Gregory Poku named Emerson’s next vice president for equity and social justice


Shaye Gregory Poku / Courtesy: Wheaton College

By Adri Pray, Editor-at-large

Interim President William Gilligan announced that Shaya Gregory Poku will become Emerson’s next vice president for equity and social justice via a community-wide email correspondence Friday morning.

Poku is slated to begin on Aug. 1 after a nation-wide search to fill the vacancy. She will report directly to Interim President Gilligan, serve on the President’s Council and consult with the Board of Trustees, Board of Advisors and Alumni Board on matters of equity and inclusion. Poku will also oversee the intersectional work of the Social Justice Center, Elma Lewis Center and Healing and Advocacy Collective, according to the email.

“I believe in working to create institutional change that is systemic, strategic, and relational,” Poku said of her Emerson appointment in the email. “I am humbled to join the Emerson community and become a partner in deepening Emerson’s equity and social justice work, boldly and creatively.”

Prior to launching her tenure at Emerson, Poku served as the associate vice president for institutional equity and belonging at Wheaton College. She also acted as Wheaton’s dean for equity, social justice and community impact and was the director of the center for social justice and community impact.

Previously Poku was the program director of the social justice resource center at Northeastern University and has worked with Search for Common Ground, a non-governmental international organization that aids in conflict resolution.

She graduated with advanced degrees in intercultural relations and held a concentration in intercultural conflict management from Lesley University, and attained a degree in security and resilience studies from Northeastern University. Poku is a certified mediator through the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

The correspondence named and acknowledged a number of Emerson community members that aided in the search, including students, staff, faculty, the Board of Trustees, the Board of Advisors and the Alumni Board.