Faculty spotlight

Nancy Chi Cantalupo named associate dean of diversity, equity and belonging

Nancy Chi Cantalupo portrait with building and pavement behind

In 2020, Wayne State joined institutions around the world in responding to the clarion call for real change to combat systemic racism. Consistent with Wayne State’s history of meaningful engagement with society and its mission of “positively impacting local and global communities,” university leadership took action to reduce and eliminate implicit and explicit biases and improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across the university through the establishment of a Social Justice Action Committee (SJAC). The Law School is following suit, and in fall 2022, Wayne Law named Nancy Chi Cantalupo its first associate dean of diversity, equity and belonging to lead and ensure the achievement of an inclusive and equitable law school community.

“Dean Cantalupo’s experience, talent and commitment in this role will amplify and elevate the work of every member of Wayne Law as we strive to make our school, our community and our profession diverse and equitable spaces in which everyone truly belongs,” said Richard A. Bierschbach, dean of the Law School.

Cantalupo has more than a decade of experience writing about and teaching civil rights and Title IX, and preventing discriminatory violence such as sexual harassment and gender-based violence. Her scholarship in these areas aims to give schools and those seeking to enforce civil rights protections concrete strategies to reach such goals, and several specific proposals she has made have influenced federal law in a pro-civil rights direction.

Additionally, Cantalupo’s diversity, equity and inclusion-oriented pro bono work is extensive. In 2014, she served as a negotiator on behalf of victims’ rights groups in a Department of Education negotiated rulemaking, spoke on a U.S. Senate roundtable, and was invited to provide comments and advice to President Barack Obama’s White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. From 2017 to 2019, she wrote several drafts of the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence’s Recommendations for Improving Campus Student Conduct Processes for Gender-Based Violence. As a faculty member, she has co-chaired the planning committee for the LatCrit Junior Faculty Development Workshop, served on the board of directors for the Conference of Asian Pacific American Law Faculty, and wrote the problem for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s 2022 Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition.

Prior to her work as a teacher and a scholar, Cantalupo spent nearly 15 years in various university administrator positions, during which she built a record of advancing values of diversity, equity and belonging. Beginning with her first job out of college, as Georgetown University’s Women’s Center founding director, she served in such roles on multiple campuses and for a national association of thousands of professionals from thousands of higher education institutions.

In discussing her new role, Cantalupo emphasized her hopes for the future.

“I have spent my entire professional career working not only to promote diversity and belonging, but also — recognizing that neither diversity nor inclusion are power-neutral — advancing civil rights and equality in education; however, that work has almost always been bifurcated — either focusing on research or on the implementation of DEI programs and initiatives,” she said. “This new opportunity brings both study and action together to advance Wayne Law’s diversity, equity and belonging work. I am excited to see what those combined powers can accomplish.

“I also think this combination fits well into Wayne State’s quite unique place in the academy,” Cantalupo continued, “simultaneously serving as an access institution and a major research university.”