MSU names four finalists for interim chief diversity officer

Four internal finalists are vying for the position of Missouri State University’s interim diversity director.

The position is open following the wes pratt retirementwho has held this position since 2016.

At the end of July, the university announced that the four internal finalists would be interviewed on August 1 by the search committee. They understand:

  • Algerian deer
  • Kelly Cabrera Hayes
  • Juan Meraz
  • Nicole West

The selected person will serve for one year while a national search is launched to find a permanent replacement.

Wes Prat

Pratt, who reported directly to MSU President Clif Smart, was credited with expanding diversity training on campus and throughout the city, region and state. He was instrumental in opening the Collaborative Diversity Conference and the Facing Racism Institute to a wider audience.

Here’s a look at each of the internal finalists:

Algerian deer

Hart is a professor and associate dean from MSU’s graduate college, where he has worked since 2019.

He holds a doctorate in philosophy, educational administration, and leadership from Washington State University.

He was at Western Illinois University from 2011 to 2019, where he was professor emeritus, coordinator of the graduate program in sports management and kinesiology at the College of Education and Human Services.

Hart previously worked at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, University of the Pacific Seattle, and the Game Time Foundation.

He was also a student athlete and then a coach.

Kelly Cabrera Hayes

Hayes has been coordinator of the International Center for Leadership and Training at MSU since 2013.

She holds a doctorate in education sciences from the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, Colombia.

She also has two master’s degrees from MSU. One is on applied second language acquisition with a focus on Spanish and the other is on teaching English to speakers of other languages.

Hayes was a television presenter and host in Colombia.

She was also the director of the Communications Office of a radio station in Colombia from 2003 to 2010.

Juan Meraz

Meraz is Assistant Vice President, Diversity Office, at MSU. He served as the Diversity Awareness and Recruitment Coordinator from 2008-2012, Senior Researcher for Diversity and Inclusion for one year, and Director of Diversity at the College of Business Administration for two years.

He has a long history at MSU. He was a student and worked as the group’s director from 1991 to 2000 and began teaching at the university in 1999.

Meraz has multiple certificates and an executive degree from Harvard Kennedy School and a doctorate in Christian Evangelism Education from United States Christian University.

He has two bachelor’s degrees from MSU. One is in industrial management and the other in Spanish.

Nicole West

the West is a Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning Scholar for Diversity and Defective Development at MSU, a position she held in 2020. She also spent a year as director of the graduate program at the university.

She holds a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of South Florida.

West has been an assistant professor at MSU since 2018.

She was previously associate director of the Global Citizens Project at the University of South Florida. At the same university, she also served as Deputy Director of the Academy for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

West also served as coordinator of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of South Florida from 2001 to 2006.

Claudette Riley is the News-Leader’s educational reporter. Email news tips to

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