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Spalding names psychology faculty member Dr. Steven Kniffley as Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Racial-trauma therapist and scholar will join President’s Operational Council, promoting best practices and initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion across campus

Steve Jones

Spalding University has named School of Professional Psychology faculty member Dr. Steven Kniffley – an innovative therapist and researcher on matters of race and racial trauma – as the university’s Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

Kniffley is a clinical psychologist who is distinguished as the leader of Spalding’s Collective Care Center – one of the nation’s only behavioral health clinics to specialize in treating race-based trauma and stress. Since 2018, he has served as Associate Director of Spalding’s Center for Behavioral Health training clinic, of which the Collective Care Center is a specialty division.

Beginning in January, in his new role as Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Kniffley will be a member of President Tori Murden McClure’s senior leadership team – known as the Operational Council – and will take on a broad role across campus in promoting best practices and developing initiatives that advance diversity as a critical component of social, academic and intellectual life at Spalding.

Working out of the President’s Office, Kniffley will support Spalding’s mission to be a “diverse community of learners dedicated to meeting the needs of the times” while promoting peace and justice. He will actively engage students, faculty and staff to further behaviors, attitudes and policies that support diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition, he will also represent Spalding in the community on matters of diversity and inclusion and serve as a point person in developing partnerships related to those issues.

“Dr. Steven Kniffley is a rising star on the faculty at Spalding and is a perfect choice to become our Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer,” McClure said. “Through his work in the Collective Care Center as well as through his teaching and scholarly work, he has demonstrated a deep understanding of issues of race and inequity in society. Moreover, through his public speaking and service work, he has demonstrated a passion and skill for raising awareness and turning conversations toward the need to promote justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and cultural competence. On a range of day-to-day and long-term issues at Spalding, our students, faculty and staff will be well-served by hearing his ideas and advice.

McClure continued: “For decades, Spalding has been committed to the promotion of social justice in downtown Louisville, and throughout my term as President, adding diverse voices to our university leadership and continuing to advance our diversity and inclusion efforts have been a priority of mine. Elevating Dr. Kniffley to this role is another step in showing that commitment while expanding Spalding’s history of promoting diversity and inclusion. During a year in which the attention of our city and our nation has focused sharply on justice and equity, there has never been a more important time to emphasize that commitment.”

Kniffley will remain on the Spalding faculty in the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology program and continue his role at the Collective Care Center.

“I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to lead Spalding University’s justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts,” Kniffley said. “As chief diversity officer, I will work to enhance Spalding’s impact as an anti-oppression institution through meaningful policy, results-oriented programming, and capacity building through the development of community partnerships.”

Off campus, Kniffley serves as a research consultant for the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Synergy Project, which aims to improve relations between residents and the police. He is also a member of the City of Louisville’s Citizens Commission on Police Accountability.

He was recently voted the President-Elect of the Kentucky Psychological Association.

In addition to publishing numerous scholarly articles and book chapters, Kniffley co-authored the book Out of K.O.S. (Knowledge of Self): Black Masculinity, Psychopathology, and Treatment, and he co-edited the book Black Males and the Criminal Justice System.

Kniffley has given dozens of public and professional seminars and presentations, including a 2019 lecture series for the Louisville Free Public Library titled Mental Health and the Black Community.

Earlier this year, Kniffley was named to Louisville Business First’s Forty Under 40, honoring outstanding and service-minded young professionals in Louisville, and this month he was honored by IGE Media and the Medical News as the recipient of the 2020 MediStar Healthcare Advocacy Award for advocating for increasing culturally competent care for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) individuals, and for more education, training and service provision for the experience of racial trauma.

In 2018, he received an award for multicultural professional development from the Kentucky Psychological Association.

Kniffley is a graduate of the Spalding PsyD program. He also holds a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit leadership from Wright State University and a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Louisville.

Kniffley did a post-doctoral fellowship in child and adolescent acute services with Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts. Before joining Spalding’s faculty, he was on the faculty at Wright State from 2014-18.