Northeastern appoints Karl Reid first chief inclusion officer

Courtesy photo.

Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun and Provost David Madigan have appointed Karl Reid as the university’s first chief inclusion officer, a key role that is part of an institution-wide effort to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion and ensure that every member of the university community is supported on the path to success. 

A materials scientist and engineer and an author, Reid brings a wealth of leadership experience in building programs for underrepresented minority students in the STEM fields. At Northeastern, he will apply his vast knowledge of creating and fostering inclusion across the research and learning enterprise.

A longtime advocate for underserved populations, Reid seeks to weave equity into various aspects of the university’s teaching and research enterprise and professional development with the goal of ensuring all Northeastern students and employees can thrive.

“I want to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to create a place where people have psychological safety and can bring their full selves to teach and work and research and learn,” says Reid, who currently serves as the executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers before joining Northeastern.

“I believe inclusion is the optimal goal toward achieving institutional excellence,” says Reid, whose title will also include senior vice provost. “Northeastern is primed to further that goal, especially in light of the environment of racial reckoning and the pandemic.”

Reid’s passion for inclusive education has intensified amid continued calls for racial justice sparked by the brutal killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police last May.

In June 2020, President Aoun announced a call to action for the university to address systemic racism—especially anti-Black discrimination—and advance the institution’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Over the months that followed, many new initiatives have taken root and students, faculty, and staff have shared ideas and insights through discussions, gatherings, and other forms of feedback. As the work continues to develop concrete plans to turn aspirations into reality, the chief inclusion officer will play a critical role in advancing these important goals.

“[Reid] will serve as a catalyst towards promoting a culture of inclusion and creating a learning and working environment where all members of the community have an opportunity to succeed,” said Aoun and Madigan in a joint announcement to the university community Monday.

Reid has also held leadership roles focused on education equity and outreach at the United Negro College Fund, where he managed new program development, research, and capacity building for the organization’s 37 historically Black colleges and universities. He served as director of the office of minority education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his alma mater, as well as the assistant to the chancellor for diversity. Among his many notable affiliations, Reid serves on the Committee on Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women of Color in Tech for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. He is also a member of the American Society for Engineering.

Reid earned his Ed.D. at Harvard University, and earned both his masters and bachelors degrees in materials science and engineering from MIT.

He will also become professor of the practice in the Graduate School of Education in the College of Professional Studies when he joins Northeastern in April.

Reid said he was attracted to position partially because of the spirit of innovation at Northeastern.

“Northeastern is distinctive in its agility to conceive and operationalize new ideas,” he says.

As a cabinet-level member of university leadership, Reid will have broad access to all corners of the institution and a mandate to create a thorough inclusion strategy.

But first, he just wants to get to know everyone.

“The first part of the job is really to learn about what already exists and the impact it’s having,” says Reid. “Then we can set goals and develop a strategy to get there.”

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