Andrea Cornett-Scott Named Inaugural Chief Diversity Officer

August 2, 2021

MBU has named Andrea Cornett-Scott as chief diversity officer, an inaugural executive staff position which reports directly to the president.

Mary Baldwin University announced today that Andrea Cornett-Scott has been named chief diversity officer (CDO), an inaugural executive staff position.  

As CDO, Cornett-Scott will build upon her 25 years of experience in diversity strategies, inclusive programming, and student-centered mentorship at Mary Baldwin to provide strategic vision to develop and implement proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at MBU and most effectively foster a community of awareness, belonging, and respect. 

Cornett-Scott will expand DEI efforts and resources across the enterprise in her new role at the executive level, reporting directly to President Pamela R. Fox.

MBU has named Andrea Cornett-Scott as chief diversity officer, an inaugural executive staff position which reports directly to the president.

Fox announced the CDO role as part of the university’s ongoing work to infuse DEI principles into all aspects of its operations — including policies, programs, services, and activities — and most effectively empower students to become inclusive leaders in their personal and professional lives.

“Rev. Cornett-Scott has been essential to building the diverse and inclusive community at Mary Baldwin over the course of her extraordinary 25-year tenure,” said Fox. “A strong and proven leader of inclusive excellence, she will bring both experience and inspiration to the inaugural position of chief diversity officer, as well as a keen sense of compassion for our students and their individual lived experiences.” 

Cornett-Scott will work with the entire campus community as well as the broader regional community, and will leverage her decades-long experience bolstering and collaborating with Mary Baldwin’s diverse student body, which now comprises more than 50% representation of people of color and is represented by diversity in gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic class.

Collaborating with university stakeholders, she will assess the need for training initiatives on cultural competency, racial sensitivity, gender equity, and other topics designed to increase awareness and support of DEI values.

“I am thrilled to have forged much of my life’s work at Mary Baldwin University creating programming that prepares students to serve in a diverse world,” Cornett-Scott said. “I am looking forward to working closely with the executive staff, the Coalition for Racial and Social Justice, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the broader Staunton community to grapple with complex issues and to lead an intentional effort to sustain an environment that fosters greater inclusive excellence.”

After officially beginning her new duties on August 1, initial priorities for Cornett-Scott include partnering closely with the Coalition for Racial and Social Justice to develop a DEI strategic plan and ongoing assessment strategies in addition to developing educational programs and professional development around social justice, anti-bias principles, and cultural and ethnic identity.

“I am looking forward to working closely with the executive staff, the Coalition for Racial and Social Justice, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the broader Staunton community to grapple with complex issues and to lead an intentional effort to sustain an environment that fosters greater inclusive excellence.”
Chief Diversity Officer Andrea Cornett-Scott

Since she joined Mary Baldwin in 1996 as director of African American affairs, Cornett-Scott has impacted the lives of hundreds of students through her work as an advisor and her leadership in MBU’s Office of Inclusive Excellence, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary during the upcoming academic year.

Most recently serving as associate provost of inclusive excellence, she designed and directed both the Ida B. Wells Living-Learning Community — a leadership and civic engagement program for women of African descent — and the PERSIST Program, focusing on student success. 

She also served as a co-leader of MBU’s Coalition for Racial and Social Justice, formed last summer, and as a member of the Academic Leadership Council. 

“Rev. Cornett-Scott will bring both experience and inspiration to the inaugural position of chief diversity officer.”
President Pamela Fox

Over the course of her MBU career, she has been a vital resource for DEI expertise and best practices during strategic planning and designing initiatives to serve students.

Often in collaboration with students to bring their interests to life, she has launched and developed nearly 30 programs, celebrations, and organizations to bolster cross-cultural learning and inclusive excellence at the university. 

Those programs — like the Ubuntu Student Mentoring Program and the Sista Friends Alumni Mentoring Program — were also consistently focused on supporting students’ academic, emotional, and social wellbeing through relationship-building.   

Traditions created through the Office of Inclusive Excellence have become part of the MBU culture as a whole. The Kwanzaa celebration, held each February, is one of the largest events on campus, and the annual Ajani Ceremony — celebrating graduates who have been leaders of diversity programming and inclusive excellence — is a signature event during Commencement weekend. Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month and Black History Month also bring a slate of cultural events and engagement opportunities to MBU. 

Behind each of these efforts, Cornett-Scott has promoted the value of a diverse intellectual and  social environment for all students and has centered the voices of historically culturally marginalized students. 

Also a member of the philosophy and religion department, Cornett-Scott taught the courses African American Religion and Community and Practice, both of which support the African American studies minor, as well as Faith, Life, and Service and Community Service. 

In 2000, she planted Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in downtown Staunton, where she continues to serve as pastor. She has also served as the dean for the AME Virginia Annual Conference Board of Examiners for many years, and last year was named dean of the Second Episcopal District Board of Examiners.

Cornett-Scott attended Howard University and graduated from Morris Brown College, earning a bachelor of arts in Spanish. As an undergraduate, Cornett-Scott also studied abroad in the Dominican Republic at Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra. She earned her master of divinity from Payne Theological Seminary, writing her thesis — “Ain’t Got Time to Die: The African Spiritual Inheritance of the African Methodist Episcopal Church” — on African cultural continuities. 

MBU is currently seeking to fill two positions in the Office of Inclusive Excellence, which will report to Cornett-Scott as CDO. The director of inclusive excellence will absorb many of Cornett-Scott’s former duties, leading programmatic efforts to engage communities of difference and support an inclusive learning environment and student success. The office’s program fellow will assist the director with the facilitation and implementation of inclusive excellence programming.