GeneralNewsQueens University Charlotte

Queens University Appoints Renee Wells Vice President For DEI

Queens University of Charlotte’s commitment to inclusivity extends far beyond educational workshops and insightful discussions during Pride Month. The recent appointment of Renee Wells as the new assistant vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion highlights Queens’ ongoing commitment to fostering a truly inclusive and equitable learning environment for all.

This position will mark a return to North Carolina for Wells, who previously led the GLBT Center at North Carolina State University. Most recently, she served as the assistant vice president of education for equity and inclusion at Middlebury College in Vermont. She also served as assistant director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Michigan Technological University.

An advocate for diversity and accessibility in higher education, Wells is excited to leverage her experience and build on Queens’ strong foundation. Her goal is to create an even more inclusive learning environment where everyone can thrive.

“If you look nationally, there is legislation being proposed to roll back the rights for the queer and trans community and so making sure that, as an institution, we are providing an environment without discrimination where people feel safe and supported means everything,” said Wells.

Through the years, Queens has made significant strides in ensuring an inclusive learning environment. Members of the class of 2024 recently celebrated their second annual lavender commencement ceremony, honoring graduates in the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, the Queens University Queer Union (QUQU) provides a supportive space for students, while the Queer and Questioning employee resource group fosters belonging among faculty and staff.

Tysheen Oliver ’27, vice president of the QUQU, knows firsthand the power of acceptance. Growing up near Summerton, South Carolina, he was the victim of bullying. At 14, he found the courage to come out to his family.

“Sharing this part of myself with my parents was terrifying but I immediately felt a weight lifted off my shoulders,” he said. “My family’s unwavering support helped me embrace my true self. Here at Queens, I’ve found a community within QUQU that shares my identity and provides a space where I can be myself without fear.”

A psychology major, Oliver dreams of becoming a child psychologist. “I want to help kids navigate mental health challenges, equipping them with tools to overcome adversity,” he explained.

“Some students have families that aren’t inclusive, welcoming, or supportive of their identities,” said Wells. “College is where students get to be themselves and be part of a community that values and affirms them for who they are. Having a space for them to connect with others at Queens is really important.”

Kira McEntire, PhD, assistant professor of biology, played a key role in launching the employee resource group, Queer and Questioning, in 2023. “Our first year was all about building a strong LGBTQ+ faculty and staff community,” McEntire reflected. “We’ve created new opportunities for connection. There’s a real sense of energy and enthusiasm within the group. We’re excited to make positive changes on campus, and I can’t wait to see what our second year brings!”

“Self-discovery is a lifelong journey. For some, understanding their identity unfolds gradually, even into adulthood,” said Wells. “As an institution of higher learning, it’s our responsibility to provide affirming spaces, resources, and professional support to ensure that everyone feels welcome and valued.”

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Pride Month. Looking back, Wells highlights a more intentional focus on celebrating the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ identities. “Originally, the fight for gay rights centered on the experiences of gay men and lesbians,” she explains. “Over time, we’ve come to understand and embrace diversity within the LGBTQ+ community, particularly when it comes to gender identity. While Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate our authentic selves, we should embrace and accept each other throughout the whole year,” said Wells.

MORE >>>