UM Athletics Designates Myles Payne as Chief Diversity Officer; Launches Diversity & Inclusion Plan

UM Athletics Designates Myles Payne as Chief Diversity Officer; Launches Diversity & Inclusion Plan

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Miami Athletics announced Friday it has designated current Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration Renae Myles Payne as the department’s Chief Diversity Officer.

“We remain committed to strengthening our efforts in the areas of diversity and inclusion,” Director of Athletics Blake James said. “Renae has been involved with this work for a number of years at several institutions and on a national level in college athletics. She is more than qualified to lead us in this area and she has already made a significant impact in her expanded role.”

The department’s immediate plan is to conduct a nine-week educational process focused on the origins of race. Dr. Myles Payne and Dr. Felecia Theune, a UM sociology professor and academics learning specialist in the athletic department, will facilitate courageous conversations with small groups.

“As a large department, it is better to have uncomfortable conversations in intimate groups,” Myles Payne said. “Race is one of the most uncomfortable subjects in the world, but since the killing of George Floyd, it has become the subject matter of conversations everywhere.”

Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development Shirelle Jackson has been leading the diversity and inclusion efforts for Miami student-athletes since 2012.

“It’s great to have parallel paths in this space for student-athletes and now staff,” Jackson said. “I’m happy to partner with Renae on this journey for the entire department.”

The overall diversity and inclusion plan will also include customized sessions on specific topics, partnering with University offices and organizations, implicit bias testing, emotional intelligence testing, review of hiring practices and policies, and a book club.

“When we hired Renae, diversity and inclusion was written into the job description,” Deputy Athletic Director/Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Strawley said. “I was convinced we needed someone who could move us forward in this area as well as other administrative areas. Renae is helping us do that daily.”