Dr. Matthew Chaney seeks to make a difference as Wright State's
first vice president for inclusive excellence
Matthew Chaney, Ed.D., never expected to work in higher education. After earning his bachelor's degree in public relations, he thought he would follow his parents and other family members by working at General Motors in his hometown of Flint, Michigan.
But after a persistent mentor named Raymond Gant encouraged him to interview for a position in the Office of Minority Student Affairs at Ferris State University, Chaney's future changed.
"I found my passion, found my why," he said.
Chaney saw firsthand the impact he could have by supporting students from marginalized backgrounds, first-generation college students. "It really showed me how important our roles were at the institution, in student development and mentoring students," he said.
He spent the next 26 years at Ferris State in Big Rapids, Michigan, mentoring and supporting students and working on strategic planning and diversity initiatives. He served as director and assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services and assistant director of student support services.
Chaney joined Wright State University in June as the university's first vice president for inclusive excellence, working with the campus community to foster a welcoming campus environment and institutional culture that supports diversity, accessibility, equity and inclusion for all. He provides leadership and strategic planning for diversity and inclusion initiatives across the university and chairs the President’s Council for Inclusive Excellence.
"It's incumbent upon all of us if we're going to make change, if we're going to lead the region, it's going to take work from all of us inclusively to make Wright State a better place," he said.
One reason Chaney was attracted to the role of vice president for inclusive excellence was the opportunity to work with and mentor students. While he is passionate about inclusive excellence and diversity work, he said, "I think even more importantly, I'm passionate about student development."
Exposing students to diverse groups of people is the perfect complement to their education, he said. "And as we do that, we begin to learn more and more what we have in common as opposed to what's different," he said.
A key way Chaney and the Division of Inclusive Excellence support students is through the culture and identity centers: the Asian and Native American Center, Bolinga Black Cultural Resources Center, Latino Center, LGBTQA Center and the Women's Center.
Chaney started his new role by "hitting the ground learning," meeting with students, including the leaders of several student organizations, and faculty and staff from across the university.
He is focused on building relationships and understanding where Wright State is successful and where there are gaps that need to be filled to make Wright State a better campus community.
Chaney earned an Ed.D. in community college leadership, master’s degree in career and technical education, bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing, and an associate degree from Ferris State.
He grew up in Flint, Michigan, where his parents worked for General Motors. His father grew up in the Jim Crow south in Arkansas and his mother in Decatur, Mississippi.
"I heard the stories of oppression and how people of color were marginalized, and that has fueled my desire to want to make this world a better place and to drive the work that I do," Chaney said. "It's driven on relationships and respect for all."
As a Black man, Chaney has experienced racism and been denied opportunities. It drives him to make a difference.
"That always fuels me to do this work and achieve success," he said.