F&ES Names School’s First Assistant Dean of Community and Inclusion
By Kevin Dennehy
Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles and events posted prior to July 1, 2020 refer to the School's name at that time.
Thomas Easley, an educator who has tackled diversity challenges in the academic classroom and on the stage, was recently appointed the Assistant Dean of Community and Inclusion at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
Easley, 39, comes to Yale from North Carolina State University (NCSU), where he spent 13 years as the Director of Community Diversity at the university’s College of Natural Resources. He has a master’s degree in forest genetics from Iowa State University and a doctorate of education from NCSU.
At F&ES he will work with the entire community — faculty, staff, and students — on a range of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
“Thomas has such an ideal combination of skills and experiences that will really help strengthen this community,” said F&ES Dean Indy Burke. “He has a background in natural resources and forestry, has experience in diversity issues and academia, and is a gifted and charismatic communicator.
“He’s going to be such a valuable role model and mentor to our students — particularly for students from communities that for too long have been under-represented here.”
At F&ES he will guide initiatives to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion across the school. That will include working to build a more diverse community of students, faculty, and staff through active recruitment and working with faculty on courses to expand materials for an increasingly diverse student body.
At North Carolina State, Easley worked across different levels of campus, creating a bridge between those working in the trenches on diversity issues and administrative leaders who previously might not have made such considerations a priority.
He directed the development and implementation of a strategic plan around diversity issues and taught a course, “Diversity and Environmental Justice.” He also coordinated equity and inclusion training for student organizations and other administration units across campus.
He has also been pastor for a campus ministry that has attracted students from a wide range of backgrounds and he regularly performs hip-hop.
“When people hear about all the things I’m doing they say, ‘Oh, you’re doing too much!’” he said. “When I hear that I laugh and say, ‘I’m not doing too much. It’s the same message — I’m just changing up the platform.’”