Tanya M. Nichols brings wealth of knowledge and experience to new role

Tanya NicholsTanya M. Nichols, Ph.D., was named project manager for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, a new position in a new division of the University of Mississippi. The Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement falls under this division.

Nichols will help Katrina M. Caldwell, Ph.D., vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement, build the infrastructure for the new division.

Her interests include the impact of discrimination and all forms of microaggressions and oppression on college adjustment and university employee satisfaction, and she said she’s excited about applying her passion for social justice at a more systemic and universitywide level within higher education.

“My past research has aligned with my commitment to diversity issues related to young adults in higher education,” Nichols said. “My dissertation, ‘The Influence of Perceived Discrimination on the Mental Health of African-American Students: Examining the Role of Psychological and Cultural Resources in Inhibiting Stress,’ described the role of resiliency, coping, ethnic identity and racial identity in the relationship between campus discrimination and depression, anxiety and somatic symptoms.

“My goal is to use this research to review institutional policies, programs and strategies to further create a culture of respect and sensitivity in the university environment and promote social justice. I strongly believe that effective inclusive higher education policies should occur at both the individual and systems levels while carefully considering multicultural, historical and contextual factors.”

Nichols was previously a staff psychologist with the University Counseling Center here at Ole Miss. She received her doctoral degree in clinical and school psychology from the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, and did a predoctoral internship in clinical and community psychology at the Yale University School of Medicine and a postdoctoral fellowship in Counseling and Psychological Services at Cornell University. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and clinical psychology, respectively, are both from Loyola University in Maryland.

Nichols said she is committed to faculty/staff and students’ positive experiences in higher education. She co-leads and is the founder of the UM Women of Color Network, which focuses on providing professional development, networking and mentorship for faculty and staff. She also served on the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women and UM’s Bias Incident Response Team in 2016-17.

“My interest in diversity and inclusion in higher education is reflected in the work that I have done throughout my professional experiences,” Nichols said. “I have a passion for improving educational and employee experiences for individuals, specific groups and campus departments through consultations, programs and trainings.”