Diversity Chief at Missouri State University Is Stepping Down

Ken-CoopwoodIn 2011, Kenneth D. Coopwood Sr. was hired as the inaugural vice president of diversity and inclusion at Missouri State University. Before this appointment, Dr. Coopwood was director of diversity programming, assistant to the chancellor and an adjunct faculty member in the School of Education at Indiana University Northwest in Gary. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a master of public administration degree, and a doctorate in educational administration, leadership and foundations, all from Indiana State University.

In 2014, Missouri State University received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award. A year later, Dr. Coopwood was selected by INSIGHT into Diversity to receive its Diversity Visionary Award.

But in 2015, an online petition alleged that Dr. Coopwood had been subjected to discriminatory treatment on the basis of his race. The petition, which was placed by a local businessperson who is a friend of Dr. Coopwood, said that the university’s diversity officer was subjected to despicable and hostile behavior by his own staff and was discriminated against by the administration.

In response, the university initiated an independent investigation by a reputable law firm. On December 30, a report on the allegations was given to the board of trustees at Missouri State. The report concluded that there was no credible evidence that Dr. Coopwood had been treated unfairly.

On January 4, Dr. Coopwood announced that he would leave his post on April 30 and would be on leave until that time. In a statement, Dr. Coopwood said that “I agreed to the investigation and actively participated in it. I think the investigative team took the matter seriously and conducted a thorough investigation. While I accept the investigation and its findings, I have decided it would be best for me to pursue other professional opportunities.”

Clif Smart, president of Missouri State University, told the Springfield News Leader that after the allegations and the investigation “it was a mutual decision that it was going to be a challenge moving forward.”

Related Articles


  1. It is horrible that in 2016 Missouri State University has not changed its behavior regarding people of color. Certainly, the university should be closed.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to contact@JBHE.com.

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs