Marquette expands support for Urban Scholars program, aligns with DEI infrastructure

Starting today, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, under the leadership of Dr. Chris Navia, vice president for inclusive excellence, will manage Marquette’s growing Urban Scholars program. With the move comes an increase in staff support for students, as well. 

“This change elevates the importance of the Urban Scholars program at Marquette by aligning it with a team focused solely on the university’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategies,” Provost Kimo Ah Yun said. “Dr. Navia and her team have a dedicated and farther reaching support structure that will immediately benefit students, giving them new opportunities to advance in their academic journeys and help shape important initiatives at Marquette.” 

The Urban Scholars program provides up to 45 full-tuition scholarships per year to high school seniors from the Milwaukee area. The program seeks, but is not limited to, first-generation college students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds who show great academic promise and commitment to enhancing their community through intentional action and involvement. 

“I am excited about this change because of the harmony of shared missions, and I know our incredibly talented team will wrap our arms around these students, helping them plug into the university-wide resources we already have,” Navia said. “Plus, I’m eager to see how these students will get involved and help us shape a different and better Marquette that is more inclusive and equitable.” 

Staff support will increase for the program with the addition of two new hires. A new director of Black student initiatives, reporting to Navia, will oversee the Urban Scholars program. An additional coordinator will be hired to help with advising. DJ Todd, the longtime coordinator for the program who has been vital to its success, will remain on the team. Overall, there will be three staff directly involved in day-to-day operations. 

Previously, the Office of Student Educational Services, which is aligned with the enrollment side of the university, oversaw the Urban Scholars program. The Office of Student Educational Services will be one of the main anchor programs in the Lemonis Center for Student Success. Urban Scholars students will continue to have access to that resource. 

“With the success of the Urban Scholars program and in response to concerns raised about support and staffing, we reevaluated how we can better connect students with resources across the university,” said Dr. John Baworowsky, vice president for enrollment management. “We listened and felt this was the right decision for the students while positioning the Urban Scholars program to be able to expand even more than it already has.” 

Navia is working to fill both new positions during the summer so the new team is fully staffed for the fall semester. 

Learn more about the mission of the Urban Scholars program and find scholarship information.