UNC Charlotte Appoints Social Work Professor as Diversity and Inclusion Leader

Cheryl Waites Spellman
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber announced has appointed UNC Charlotte Professor Cheryl Waites Spellman, Ed.D., to the role of interim special assistant to the chancellor for diversity and inclusion, effective Sept. 16. Waites Spellman will remain a professor in UNC Charlotte’s School of Social Work. A search will be undertaken in the spring for a permanent leader. 

A proven leader in higher education administration and leading expert in social work policy and research, Waites Spellman will coordinate with staff, faculty and students to build on the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts to create an accessible, inclusive and equitable climate. She will report directly to Gaber and work closely with leaders to develop and align strategic goals across the University.    

“UNC Charlotte’s dedication to academic excellence is inseparable from our commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion to ensure all students, faculty and staff feel welcomed, valued and can reach their full potential, and is aligned with the UNC System’s strategic goals to make access, equity, student success, and excellent and diverse institutions a top priority,” said Gaber.

“We are proud of the work already being done to build an equitable, accessible and inclusive campus community, but we know there’s more to do, and I’m confident that Waites Spellman’s years of outstanding leadership in higher education and her extensive experience in leading collaborative and strategic programmatic and organizational initiatives will enable her to provide the necessary leadership to oversee this important work.”

Waites Spellman has served as a professor in UNC Charlotte’s School of Social Work since 2018. Prior to her current role, she was a dean and professor at Wayne State University's School of Social Work. She also served as a tenured associate professor at NC State University.  

She holds a doctorate in counselor education from NC State University, a master’s degree in social work from Fordham University and a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College. She also is a graduate of the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education’s Management and Leadership in Higher Education and Management Development programs. 

“I am excited to join Chancellor Gaber, the Cabinet and the many faculty, staff and student leaders who are passionate about furthering UNC Charlotte’s diversity, equity and inclusion work,” said Waites Spellman. “I look forward to working with the outstanding team of professionals at UNC Charlotte who have been actively engaged in this effort. I hope to strengthen and expand these initiatives to help make this a place where all students, faculty and staff know they belong.” 

This is the first senior appointment for Gaber since she started in July 2020 and reinforces diversity as a key priority in her vision for UNC Charlotte. Currently, UNC Charlotte enrolls and graduates one of the most diverse student bodies in the UNC System. Approximately one-third (33%) of UNC Charlotte students identify as a racial or ethnic minority, 37% are first-generation college students, nearly half (49%) are women and more than 1,800 students come from nearly 100 countries.  

In 2016, UNC Charlotte updated its Plan for Diversity, Access and Inclusion, which outlines steps toward building a diverse and inclusive environment, and formed a cross-functional team to increase the visibility and impact of the plan. Recently, the Board of Governors created the UNC System Racial Equity Task Force to develop an actionable plan to build a culture of inclusion across its institutions and prioritize equity as part of its strategic plan.  

For more information on diversity at UNC Charlotte, visit uncc.edu/landing/diversity.