Biographies

System Executive Director for Diversity Initiatives


Dr. W. G. Robinson-McNeeseDr. W. G. Robinson-McNeese

In 2001 Dr. W.G. Robinson-McNeese left full-time work as an emergency physician to become Executive Assistant to the Dean for Diversity, SIU School of Medicine (SOM), his alma mater.

McNeese was later certified through Healthcare Executive Diversity and Inclusion training by the Association of American Medical Colleges and Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., as he continued developing innovative diversity initiatives for the SOM throughout his time there.

In 2017 McNeese retired as Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the SOM and currently holds the position of SIU System Executive Director for Diversity Initiatives.

A member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society, McNeese’s undergraduate education was at Anderson University, IN, Illinois State University-Normal and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.  Following graduation from medical school (’86), he did residency training at McGaw Medical Center, Northwestern Medical School, Chicago, IL (’90).

Diversity Advisory Council Members


Sam BeardSam Beard

Student Trustee Sam Beard was elected by the students at SIU Carbondale in May 2017 to serve on the SIU Board of Trustees. He is a senior majoring in philosophy with a minor in journalism.

He is an active community organizer whose primary focus is building solidarity across various struggles for racial, economic and environmental justice.

He has been involved with The Understory Kitchen Center for Subsistence Research, an experimental organization located in Carbondale that aims to educate, nourish and empower the region through art, political engagement and environmentally sound communal activity. He has been active with the project since its inception in early 2016.

After graduating in May of 2018 he plans to go into non-profit work.

Vanessa BrownVenessa Brown

Dr. Brown is the Associate Chancellor for the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) and Chief Diversity Officer with a tenured faculty appointment as professor in the department of social work. She also served as Associate Provost in Academic Affairs and Executive Director of the SIUE East Saint Louis Center (ESLC).

Dr. Brown began her academic career in 1993 as an assistant professor of sociology and social work in the Department of Social Sciences at Greenville College (GC). Following in her commitment to accredited social work programs, Dr. Brown accepted a position at SIUE in 1995 as an assistant professor to start the Masters in Social Work (MSW) program. She was tenured and promoted in 2001, full professor in 2006 and department chair from 2006 – 2007. In this role, she contributed to the overall success of the BSW/MSW program being fully accredited.

Todd BysonTodd Bryson


Todd Bryson received his Master’s degree in Recreation Management in 2008, and began his SIU professional career at the Student Recreation Center as the Assistant Director for Operations and Facilities.  In 2013, Todd became the Assistant Director in Housing. In 2016, Mr. Bryson became the Director of the Student Multicultural Resource Center and is currently serving in this role. In January of 2018, Todd was named the Interim Chancellor for Diversity SIUC.


Randolph BurnsideRandolph Burnside


Randolph Burnside is an Associate Professor in the MPA Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His research interests include race, ethnicity and diversity, human resources management, behavioral aspects of disasters and organizational leadership. His most recent work has been published in the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, the Journal of Applied Social Science, and the Ralph Bunche Journal of Public Affairs.




Lakesha ButlerLakesha Butler


Dr. Lakesha Butler is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist. She earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Mercer University College of Pharmacy in Atlanta, GA and completed a pharmacy practice residency at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Dr. Butler is a strong advocate for increasing cultural competency among healthcare professionals, improving diversity and inclusion in and outside the classroom and developing leaders. She serves as the inaugural coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion at the SIUE School of Pharmacy and coordinator of the SIUE Healthcare Diversity Summer Camp which exposes minority high school students to college life and careers in pharmacy, nursing and dental medicine. Dr. Butler is the national President-elect of the National Pharmaceutical Association, and has received numerous awards for her national and local service leadership in pharmacy.

Wendi Wills El-AminWendi Wills El-Amin


Wendi Wills El-Amin, M.D. is the Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.  She is also a faculty member at the school as an associate professor of family medicine where she provides care at the Center for Family Medicine in Springfield. Dr. El-Amin is dually appointed to the SIU’s Department of Medical Education and is an Academic Strategist.

She completed her residency in family practice and community medicine as chief resident at the University of Texas-Houston (2001). She earned her medical degree at Georgetown Medical School (1998) and a bachelor’s degree in biology at Hampton University in Virginia (1993).

El-Amin is board certified in family medicine and is a member of the National Medical Association, where she chairs the Women’s Health Section (2008 – present).

Luke JansenLuke Jansen


Mr. Luke Jansen was elected by the students at SIU Edwardsville in April 2017 to serve on the SIU Board of Trustees. His term ends on June 30, 2018.

He is a native of Effingham, Ill., and graduated from Saint Anthony High School. Jansen is a senior majoring in marketing and public relations.

He has been a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon since 2014 and currently serves as vice president. He served one term as vice president of standards and two terms as vice president of communications. Through Sigma Phi Epsilon, Jansen works closely with Big Brothers Big Sisters, both by raising money and volunteering for the organization.

He also is a member of SIUE Dance Marathon, a philanthropic event that annually raises close to $50,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.

A former student body president, Jansen previously was involved with University Housing, the SIUE Marketing Association, the Office of Admissions and the Interfraternity Council.

Aileen PortugalAileen Portugal


Aileen Portugal is a third year medical student at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.  She started medical school after completing MEDPREP, a rigorous two year post-baccalaureate program at SIU Carbondale.

As a first year medical student she started a Gay-Straight Alliance and organized lectures for students to learn basic LGBTQ terminology.  She additionally served for two years as a member for the med school’s Diversity Committee.

Her passion for inclusion, diversity and equity lead Aileen to participate in school of medicine initiatives such as the Diversity Forums, and she has also undergone anti-racism training through Crossroads International.

Aileen received her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California San Diego in 2007 and worked in the biotechnology field for 6 years before relocating to Illinois.

Michael RuizMichael Ruiz


Michael Ruiz is responsible for career services and counseling for the School of Law, diversity and inclusion initiatives, the pro bono requirement, school-wide surveys, and other special projects.

Michael received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with honors from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1990, and a Juris Doctor from University of Chicago School of Law in 1993.

He has been recognized by the state and national bar, having received the Young Lawyer of the Year Award (2000) from the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access (2000) from the American Bar Association.

Before his current position, he worked in the field of communications for SIUC serving as both the Director of the Communications department and Director of Communications for the Office of the President.

Prince WellsPrince Wells


Prince Wells joined the SIUE faculty in 1989, was appointed Assistant Professor in 1996, and tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 2002. Mr. Wells has served as Director of the Music Business Program, he also teaches freshman Music Theory and Introduction to Music History and Literature.

Wells received his baccalaureate degree in Music Education from SIUE and completed his master’s degree in Afro-American Music and Trumpet at the New England Conservatory of Music. He also studied trumpet with noted instructor Carmine Caruso, as well as Gary Smith of the St. Louis Symphony.

Under the tutelage of the internationally known composer and theorist George Russell, Wells earned certification in the Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, and currently holds the distinction of being one of only three persons in the United States with that certification.