Humphrey works for campus diversity

By Gwenn Barney

Vice Provost Kathy Humphrey made her decision to become a part of the Pitt community in much the… Vice Provost Kathy Humphrey made her decision to become a part of the Pitt community in much the same way many freshmen choose Pitt.

“I came for a visit and fell in love with the place,” she said.

Humphrey, who just celebrated her fifth year at the University, said she has only fallen more in love with the blue and gold school over time.

As both vice provost and dean of students, Humphrey plays a large role in daily Pitt life. She supervises all University organizations students work with outside the classroom.

Humphrey has been notably devoted to campus diversity. She was instrumental in the creation of the cross-cultural leadership community at Pitt.

By her measure, most universities that have similar leadership departments keep them segregated culturally, focusing on training leaders within their own cultural context, instead of across cultures.. Humphrey has worked hard to make sure this is not the case with Pitt’s community.

Most recently, Humphrey has improved Pitt’s diversity by implementing the “Cultural Assimilation Program.” The program gives students an opportunity to explore other cultures through participation in various ceremonies of other areas of the world.

Humphrey is known by many for her energetic demeanor. Director of Communication for Student Affairs Shawn Ahearn has enjoyed working beside the high-spirited provost.

“I love working for her because she brings such tremendous energy each and every day. Her enthusiasm is contagious,” he said.

Ahearn particularly remembers the excitement Humphrey exhibited during the annual Pitt Make a Difference Day, one of her favorite projects. The first Make a Difference Day, when students gathered to participate in an Oakland-wide community service project, took place on a cold and gray October morning.

Despite the less-than-ideal weather, Humphrey brought her usual excitement to the event. She rolled up her sleeves and worked along side students to clean up the community.

“She’s just like this light on campus,” Ahearn said.

Humphrey makes a point to spend as much time with the student population as possible.

“I love the students here,” she said. “In general, they’re bright, engaging and really accepting of one another.”

Once a month, Humphrey hosts “dean’s hours,” during which she meets and chats with students over food and drinks. At the most recent dean’s hours this past spring, Humphrey even took her indoor dean’s hours outside, where she played corn hole with students.

Before working with students, Humphrey spent many years as a student herself. When she was a child, her parents moved to Missouri in hopes of providing quality educational opportunities for their children. Humphrey vowed to take advantage of the opportunities her family provided her, eventually earning a doctorate in higher education administration at Saint Louis University.

Though she has left her Midwestern roots behind in favor of Pittsburgh, she recognizes a lot of similarities between her native and adopted homes.

“The feel is similar,” she said. “People are very courteous. They have the same kind of winter.”

She admits, though, that there is one major difference between the two places.

“All my family is in Missouri,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey doesn’t regret leaving her large family for Pitt though. “I love Pitt,” she said. “I feel like this is my community now.”