Chief Diversity Officer Willie Fleming to retire this summer


Courtesy of Marie Freeman

Willie Fleming graduated from App State in 1980 with a bachelors in art education and later obtained a masters in student development in 1984. He has worked to promote diversity and inclusion at the university since.

Jackie Park, Reporter

Chief Diversity Officer Willie Fleming will retire from the university June 1, Chancellor Sheri Everts announced Monday evening. 

Fleming has worked at App State since 2016 and earned both his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in the High Country in art education and student development, respectively. He has held the first cabinet-level diversity position since 2018.

Fleming leads the office of Diversity and Inclusion, regularly hosting workshops and training for faculty, staff and students. He leads several teams at the university level, including the Chief Diversity Officer’s Advisory Board and the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Board for Diversity Recruitment. Fleming also serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team and a steering committee the Black at App State Collective created. 

Working at a predominantly white institution, much of Fleming’s work has focused on fostering inclusive spaces for underrepresented students. 

Fleming was App State’s director of minority affairs in the 1980s, which is now known as director of multicultural development. He founded the Black Student Association in 1974 and was “instrumental in bringing Black Greek life” to the university, Everts said. 

In the last year, he has worked closely with the Black at App State Collective to implement demands the group put forth over the summer to create accountability and space at the university for minority students.

The Dr. Willie C. Fleming Scholarship first came about in 2014, thanks to alumnus Gary Henderson and alumna Reneé Evans. The scholarship is merit-based and awards full in-state tuition and fees and mentoring and networking to underrepresented students on campus. Everts said Fleming’s legacy “will live on for generations to come.”

We know he will continue to remain involved with the university, and will stay connected with his many friends and colleagues here on campus,” Everts wrote.

A celebration for Fleming and a national search for Chief Diversity Officer are underway.

Emily Broyles contributed reporting to this story.