Dr. Samuel Lopez is the Assistant Vice President for Diversity Initiatives at West Virginia University (WVU). He has a wife and family that includes six children and six grandchildren. Dr. Lopez was a non-traditional student having worked in the aerospace industry (the Space Shuttle program) as a machinist/tool and die maker for 13 years before embarking on his academic career. He received his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Creighton University in Omaha, NE and his Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science from Utah State University in Logan, UT.
As the Assistant Vice President, Dr. Lopez is one of the leaders of the WVU campus efforts to create, coordinate, administer and evaluate programming that is inclusive and supportive in order to achieve a sustainable environment that will attract diverse and underserved faculty, staff and students. His role enables him to work with constituents across the WVU system to provide assistance, consultation or assessment of diversity and inclusion efforts aligned with institutional strategic goals.
Dr. Lopez was the former Director of Multicultural Academic Services at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The primary mission of the office was to increase/improve the recruitment, retention and graduation rates of underrepresented/underserved student populations. Under his leadership, the Office expanded programming and services by successfully reassessing historical data that resulted in an annual budgetary increase of $173,000.
Prior to his appointment at UNC Charlotte, he was a tenured professor of exercise science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the NYSP Math and Science coordinator/instructor and the Director of the Educational Access Project (EAP). The EAP was a $1.1 million federally funded multi component grant program that addressed the issues of preparedness and access to post-secondary education for underrepresented populations in central and western Nebraska. While at UNK, he also served as an educational ambassador to Shandong University in Weihai, China.
Dr. Lopez’s research and service interest has centered on addressing issues of access, recruitment, retention and graduation of traditionally underrepresented and underserved student populations. He has presented his findings and conducted workshops at several international, national and regional conferences and events including; the International Conference on Education, the National Association of Multicultural Educators (NAME), the National Association of African American Studies and Affiliates (NAAAS), the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE). Dr. Lopez is a member of the National Advisory Council for NCORE and co-chairs the Chief Diversity Officers and Executive Leadership Committee.