Blackburn Welcomes Dr. Michael Cummings as Chief Diversity Officer and Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

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Photograph of man, Dr. Michael Cummings, standing outside on the Blackburn College campus in front of two pine trees
By Office of Marketing & Public Relations
On February 14, 2024

Blackburn College has appointed Dr. Michael Cummings as the institution’s new Chief Diversity Officer, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, and Title IX Coordinator. In this senior leadership position, Cummings will lead and advance Blackburn’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) strategy, implementation, and accountability. He will oversee institutional change necessary for deepening and strengthening the College’s commitment to DEIB and will design and operationalize a transparent accountability framework to measure and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of Blackburn’s DEIB initiatives at every level of the institution.

Cummings’ has extensive experience in leading the evolution of DEIB for several organizations around the world from 2006 to the present. He most recently worked consulting with the Department of Education, leading conversations for K-12 and colleges and universities for Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence. This included directing accountability processes and developing data dashboards to track key metrics. He also oversaw the creation of an equity, diversity, belonging, and inclusion best practices toolkit to guide the planning and implementation processes.

“I chose to be a part of Blackburn College’s journey in ensuring that everyone has equitable access to learn, succeed, and achieve no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they look like,” Dr. Cummings shared. “My impression of Blackburn is that the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging is a shared responsibility, and it is our collective responsibility at Blackburn to honor this work by honoring the stories, dreams, passions, love, and joy of everyone.”

Cummings continued, “As I begin my journey with Blackburn, I am excited to apply what I’ve learned throughout my career to help the College as it aims to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible. This is central to student and institutional success, and I look forward to partnering with colleagues across campus on this critically important work.”

Cummings has additional experience in DEIB academic curriculum design and planning, comprehensive and strategic planning, and implementation as an inclusive academic consultant and lecturer of public and private K-12 School Systems. He also served on the Board of COGNIA for inclusive learning concepts, where he developed and enhanced the global and national education program. Cummings was honored with a community diversity award for outstanding efforts in advancing the school’s academic and institutional DEIB goals.

He also founded Insight Training & Educational Center, Inc., a non-profit organization to advance leadership workforce development and civic engagement, and he was recognized as a 2017 Tri-Cities, TN Distinguished Clergy of the Year for his contributions to higher education, the community, spiritual enrichment/education and social justice. 

Cummings also has considerable experience in the Human Resources/Organizational Development arena, serving as a lead consultant in the Tri-Cities government’s Region-wide organizational effectiveness and diversity initiative. Here, he led an assessment and planning process to improve organizational effectiveness and to strengthen equity, diversity, belonging, and inclusion for hundreds of employees. Additionally, he has served as a consultant with governmental agencies, hospitals, banks, and Credit Unions abroad.

While Blackburn College and its mission have consistently been guided by the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, President Gregory J. Meyer underscores the paramount significance of this senior leadership role in shaping the College’s future.

“Blackburn is steadfast in its commitment to create an environment where every individual on our campus is not only welcomed but embraced and supported, regarded as an integral part of our community,” Dr. Meyer said. “Dr. Cummings will play a lead role in ensuring that perspectives of diversity, equity, and inclusion are deeply embedded in all aspects of our College activities. We welcome Dr. Cummings to Blackburn, whose leadership, expertise, and experience will be pivotal in realizing our vision of establishing a more inclusive and welcoming community for all members.”

Cummings earned a Doctor of Theology and Master’s degree in Theology-Religious Studies and his Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources-Organizational Management and Communication and Social Psychology from Crichton College, and Certification in Counseling from The American Institute of Health Care Professionals. He holds an educational certificate from the Association of Christian Schools International, is a certified entrepreneurial trainer from CoStarters, and has been a licensed/ordained Clergy since 2000. 

Dr. Cummings officially assumed his role as Chief Diversity Officer and Executive Director of DEIB at the College in this academic year.