Christine Navia Vice president for inclusive excellence, Marquette University1250 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee
INDUSTRY: Higher education
Chris Navia, Ph.D., stepped into her role as head of Marquette’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion in July, having previously served as chief diversity officer at Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi. Before that, she held leadership positions within the University of Wisconsin System, including associate VP for student success.
Broadly speaking, Navia is tasked with helping Marquette continue its work of becoming “an institution where everyone thrives.”
Born and raised in Chicago as the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Navia was first in her family to attend college. But because her parents understood the importance and “transformative power” of education, Navia knew from a young age what was expected of her. “It was never a question of ‘if’ I was going to go (to college), it was a question of ‘when’ and ‘where.’”
After earning a bachelor’s at Carleton College in Minnesota, she went on to get her master’s and Ph.D. in higher education at the University of Michigan.
The position at Marquette was an opportunity to return home to the Midwest. But the real draw was the university’s substantive commitment to DE&I – one that goes deeper than “just the rhetoric” – along with its Catholic, Jesuit mission, which centers on the dignity of all people and looks at education through a ‘whole-person’ lens.
To Navia, it’s crucial to approach DE&I work with all demographics in mind. Diversity among students pertains not only to race and ethnicity, but also sexual identity, sexual orientation and religion. “Representation matters because it’s an invitation to learn from somebody who’s different than you are and walks through the world in different ways.”
She takes her coffee piping hot with “ample amounts” of cream and sugar.