Karla Shepherd Retires; UB Decides Against Hiring New Diversity Center Director

University of Baltimore Student Center where Diversity and Culture Center is housed. Photo credit: Mary E./ Flickr

Karla Shepherd, previously director of the University of Baltimore Culture and Diversity Center for 18 years, bid farewell to the University of Baltimore this past December. 

Months later, the university has decided to not fill her position. 

“The Division of Student Success and Support Services requested to hire a new director,” said Bill Shnirel, executive director of Student Success and Support Services in an email to the UB Post. “After careful review, the UB administration has decided not to replace this position .” Schnirel however expressed that administration is looking for means to continue providing diversity training and programming and leadership for its various diversity committees. 

Schnirel, however, insists that he has not heard any talks of eliminating or downsizing the scope of the center. 

During Shepherd’s tenure, she led training on topics ranging from building safe spaces on campuses to LGBT awareness, the latter of which began in 2009 and has since been attended by over 200 people. Additionally, she played a crucial role in starting the Holidays Around the World Fair which has taken place every fall semester since 2001 providing students the chance to share holidays from their wide array of  nationalities, ethnicities, religions, and cultures. This has grown to become one of the most widely attended events on campus. 

In the past few years, she even expanded partnerships between the center and academic departments to bring speakers, such as social commentator and activist Daphne Muse, to campus and students to museums in Baltimore and nearby Washington, DC, such as the Smithsonian Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C. 

“I enjoyed watching students come on campus fresh and leave in their caps and gowns and flourish in their future”, said Shepherd. “But I do have plans for more free time.

A Philadelphia native, Shepherd has called Maryland home since the early 1980’s when she went to the University of Maryland for 12 years before coming to the University of Baltimore in 2001 where she remained until her retirement. 

Charles Rhem is a staff writer for UB Post.