Fairfield Names Don C. Sawyer III, PhD, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Fairfield Names Don C. Sawyer III, PhD, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

In this new role, Sawyer will lead ongoing efforts to foster institutional inclusion and belonging, and establish collaborations with other colleges and universities, as well as local, state, national, and global communities.

Media Contact: Susan M. Cipollaro, scipollaro@fairfield.edu, 203-254-4000 x2726

Photo of Don C. Sawyer III, PhD

Following a national search, Don C. Sawyer III, PhD, a visionary academic leader with more than 20 years of higher education experience leading university-community partnerships and diversity and inclusion programs, will join Fairfield University as the new vice president of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, beginning July 1, 2023. Dr. Sawyer will also be joining the faculty as an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

In his new role, Dr. Sawyer will serve as chair of the President’s Working Group on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, and will be an advocate, mentor, and resource, developing and implementing diversity initiatives that support a learning and working environment where all community members have the opportunity to thrive and succeed, and where students are prepared to enter the global workforce.

“Dr. Don Sawyer brings deep academic and leadership experience, and a commitment to the transformative power of education to this new role leading Fairfield’s institutional and cultural growth through diversity and inclusive excellence,” said President Mark R. Nemec, PhD. “We look forward to his contributions as we continue to advance the University’s Jesuit Catholic commitment to creating and supporting radical hospitality and inclusive excellence in our teaching, learning, scholarship, and service.”

Dr. Sawyer will build upon Fairfield’s ongoing work to advance racial justice and belonging, and will collaborate with executive leadership on learning and development needs related to cultural humility, gender identity, race and ethnicity, ability/accessibility, and other critical areas to increase awareness, develop policies and foster institutional inclusion and belonging.

Most recently, Dr. Sawyer served as vice president for equity, inclusion, and leadership development at Quinnipiac University in the Department of Cultural & Global Engagement, coordinating and implementing the university’s strategic plan for diversity and inclusion; leading educational and assessment initiatives that ensure inclusive excellence; and working to infuse diversity concepts in the general curriculum to prepare students for success in a diverse and global workplace.

Dr. Sawyer also served as an associate professor in Quinnipiac’s College of Arts and Sciences in the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Anthropology, engaging in research and teaching on race, education, and popular culture.

At Syracuse University, where he earned his PhD in sociology, an MA in sociology, and an MS in cultural foundations of education, Dr. Sawyer held a variety of administrative positions. In his last role, he served as an adjunct instructor and director of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) in the university’s Center for Graduate Preparation & Achievement. The $3 million, multi-institutional National Science Foundation-sponsored program is dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented students receiving four-year degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In addition to extensive community engagement work with national organizations, Dr. Sawyer is widely published in academic journals and books, and has presented and delivered keynote addresses at conferences and universities nationally. His research and teaching interests include: sociology of race, race in higher education, sociology of hip-hop culture, urban sociology/international sociology, and criminal justice and reentry.

Posted On: January 23, 2023

Volume: 54 Number: 59

Fairfield University is a modern, Jesuit Catholic University, rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states, 47 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are enrolled in the University’s five schools.  In the spirit of rigorous and sympathetic inquiry into all dimensions of human experience, Fairfield welcomes students from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and engage in open conversations. The University is located in the heart of a region where the future takes shape, on a stunning campus on the Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.