Leslie Doyle joined UNLV in August as the interim director of the office of student diversity & social justice. The eight-year-old office in the Division of Student Affairs, is a student-facing organization aiming to uplift students from diverse backgrounds and connect them with education, resources, and advocacy tools.
Doyle, who most recently served as chief inclusion officer at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, has more than 20 years of experience in student affairs work, including time in housing, multicultural affairs, and leadership positions in diversity and social justice.
What brought you to UNLV?
The opportunity to serve UNLV and its students was very attractive because of the reputation of the institution and the amazing students.
Tell us about a professional accomplishment for which you are most proud.
I believe all higher education professionals are most proud of the students with whom they work. I am most proud of the professionals, citizens, and humans they are. I can count the numerous students and professionals I’ve mentored in higher education and beyond. I am proud of what they do in education, business, non-profits, government, law, medicine, just to name a few. I am proud of the way they influence and lead their families and communities.
How is SDSJ different from the other diversity, equity, and inclusion offices at UNLV?
SDSJ is focused on clearing a path to success for students of diverse backgrounds. We work to address both individual and systemic barriers that have held back these groups. On the individual level, we build up students by connecting them with peers in a nurturing, safe space. We affirm their identities, connect them with allies and resources to promote their success. Systemically, we listen to the students. When they tell us about barriers that stand between them and their goals, we work to address those obstacles. That work includes campus-wide engagement as well as advocacy within the UNLV to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to set our students up for success.
What’s your approach to educating the campus and the community on inclusion and equity?
Invitation to conversation is often my approach to education. Creating a safe space where perspectives are honored and challenged assists the learning process. A learning community should be one where different perspectives are respected and explored. Space is provided for reflection and contemplation that leads to greater understanding and knowledge.
Since your office is student-focused, what advice do you have for faculty and staff who want to support and/or advocate for our students during this time, particularly students from underrepresented backgrounds?
It is important to get to know your students, understanding their gifts and what lens and experiences they bring to this space. Invest in the success of your students genuinely and authentically, not to be perfect, but to help them navigate this environment. People may forget what you said or did, but they never forget how they made them feel.
Tell us about your ties to Las Vegas.
My family spends quite a bit of time here in Vegas and has for several years. Before my beloved grandmother and matriarch of our family passed, we spent lots of time at her home here in Vegas. My grandmother was one of my best friends. So, it is an honor to be in a community she loved, too. I have family and friends, including former students, in the area as well.
Tell us about your free time. Do you have hobbies, favorite shows?
I am the luckiest person in the world to be a part of my family. Faith and family are cornerstones in my life. I look forward to connecting with community members that share my passions for social justice, community service and sisterhood. In my spare time, I love water aerobics and travel.