Dr. Samuel Lopez is the Assistant Vice President for Diversity Initiatives for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at West Virginia University. As the Assistant Vice President, Dr. Lopez will lead the Division’s efforts to create, coordinate, administer and evaluate programming that is inclusive and supportive in order to achieve a sustainable environment that will attract and retain diverse and underserved faculty, staff and students.
Dr. Lopez was a non-traditional student having worked in the aerospace industry (the Space Shuttle program) as a machinist/tool and die maker for 13 before embarking on his academic career; he and his wife raised six children while completing his bachelor and doctorate degrees. He received his bachelor of science in exercise science from Utah State University in Logan, UT and his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Creighton University in Omaha, NE.
Following the completion of his degree requirements, Dr. Lopez practiced as a physical therapist for a short time before beginning his teaching career at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK). He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Exercise Physiology, Anatomical Kinesiology and cadaver-based Anatomy and was tenured as an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Education at UNK.
In addition to his teaching appointment, Dr. Lopez was a member of a grant writing team that secured a total of $1.1 million-dollars to develop and conduct outreach efforts to underserved populations in the central and western regions of Nebraska. Upon receipt of the funds, he received a half-time appointment as the Director of the Educational Access Project (EAP). In collaboration with campus and community partners, the EAP was instrumental in establishing many of UNK’s campus diversity initiatives and practices that resulted in more than a 300% increase in the Latino/Latinx student population at the University.
Dr. Lopez took his passion and experience to UNC Charlotte where he was appointed as the Director of Multicultural Academic Services. The primary mission of the office included efforts to increase the recruitment, retention and graduation of students from underrepresented/underserved populations. Under his leadership, the Office expanded programming and services by successfully reassessing historical data that resulted in an annual budgetary increase of $173,000. The expansion of programming included establishing and/or reestablishing partnerships with local and state TRIO programs, Communities in Schools, the YMCA and other similar community organizations.
Dr. Lopez’s research and service interest has centered on addressing issues of access, recruitment, retention and graduation of traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations. He has presented and conducted workshops at several international, national and regional conferences and events including; the International Conference on Education, the National Association of Multicultural Educators (NAME), the National Association of African American Studies and Affiliates and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). Additionally, he has served on numerous national, state, local and campus committees and boards and is currently a member of the National Advisory Council for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) where he co-chairs the Chief Diversity Officers and Executive Leadership Committee.