Director of Inclusion and Engagement brings excitement and fresh ideas

Crasha Townsend is striving to be the resource she needed in college


Director of Inclusion and Engagement Crasha Townsend. Photo by Tate Mikkelsen, ’20.

Tate Mikkelson

Crasha Townsend, the new Director of Inclusion and Engagement since July, is passionate about social justice and diversity.

She said she had an experience while earning her undergraduate degree that encouraged her to be a resource for other people.

“I went to a predominantly white institution,” Townsend said. “I lived in a residence hall with 300 people, and only five were black.”

Townsend said she is passionate about inclusion and wants to encourage community members to get engaged, attend Inclusion and Engagement events and to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

“Sometimes when we don’t know about something, instead of drawing closer to it and learning more, we build walls. Let’s tear down walls and build bridges,” Townsend said.

Townsend has served on various diversity and inclusion programs over the past 14 years, having worked at Radford University and the University of Illinois before moving to Lexington this summer.

“Once I did my research on the institution, I saw that it had a rich history and attracted a certain caliber of students,” Townsend said. “I knew I could be mentoring or working with the next president of the United States. It was appealing to me to work with students who are so talented.”

Townsend has a Ph.D. in Education Leadership, a Ph.D. in Education Management and an M.Ed. in higher education.

“I want to be the change I want to see,” said Townsend, studying in order to help students of diverse backgrounds find community at different campuses.

Townsend said she believes having representation of faculty and staff of color on a university campus is a resource within itself. She supports all students and works with cultural, religious, social justice and sexual gender identity student organizations. She also works closely with Alpha Phi Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha, two historically black Greek organizations on campus.

“While there are growing populations of students of color here, being able to strengthen those communities of color is one of our focuses so that students can share common experiences,” she said.

Townsend said she will be involved in branding efforts and innovative programing, working with organizations such as the Diversity and Inclusion Visit Experience and the Sankofa House to plan collaborative events.

Townsend said she is helping to organize the first-ever Black History Month dinner celebration coming this February. She has also worked to bring black hair care products to the university bookstore, among other projects.

“One of my goals is to provide more civil discourse around social justice and diversity and increase collaboration with student organizations and departments across campus,” she said.