Tony Liang

WPI Names Tony Laing, PhD, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Media Contact
October 26, 2022
Matt Burgos

Worcester, Mass. —October 26, 2022—Building upon its strategic progress in cultivating an inclusive community, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has named Tony Laing, PhD, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B). Laing joined WPI in a part-time capacity this summer and assumed the role full time on October 1, 2022.

Of special note is the addition of belonging to the scope of Laing’s role.

“Our aim is to foster a climate in which all members of our community thrive and feel a sense of belonging; it’s to everyone’s benefit when WPI’s students, faculty, and staff can bring their best selves to all that they do and feel accepted and valued every day,” said Lauren Turner, senior vice president for Talent & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer. “We see efforts to ensure diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging throughout our work as nurturing this type of climate—so much so that Our Inclusive Community is an important pillar of the university’s 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, Lead with Purpose. We are fortunate to have Tony’s leadership and help as we all work together to implement this important vision.”

Laing will play a central role in ensuring that the university’s living, learning, and working environments are fully inclusive for faculty, staff, and students. He will work closely within the Division of Talent & Inclusion and with staff and faculty across WPI to infuse diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging into decision-making processes and practices. Specifically, Laing will develop and implement strategic initiatives to aid in hiring and retaining diverse employees, while also leveraging resources needed to strengthen efforts to support WPI’s DEI&B strategic goals. Laing will also serve as a thought partner on diversity and inclusion issues and projects, and will hold additional listening sessions this fall, building on a series of sessions held this summer with members of WPI’s Management Council and other staff.

“WPI is a dynamic institution with a community interested in advancing DEI&B priorities,” said Laing. “From my conversations this summer, staff spoke about the importance of attracting more diverse staff, faculty, and students to WPI and retain them, voiced support for continuous health and well-being for all, shared some diversity initiatives at WPI, and expressed a desire to strengthen and add to those initiatives. I am honored to serve in this important role, and I am looking forward to working collaboratively with various stakeholders, including within the greater Worcester community.”

While Laing’s position falls within the Division of Talent & Inclusion and his work focuses primarily on employees, he will play a critical role in fostering DEI&B for the entire campus community, including students. Laing will partner with student-facing offices across campus to support programs and initiatives and seeks to launch new initiatives that bring continuous awareness about the diversity of student identities on campus, including the unique experiences of minoritized students.

Laing joins WPI after serving as the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) director for the Wayland Public Schools. METCO is a desegregation educational program designed to eliminate racial imbalance through the busing of children from Boston to suburban school districts. Working closely with Wayland teachers and administrators, Laing and his team, created educational and cultural programs that fostered greater community and a sense of belonging between Boston students of color, residents in Wayland, and their caregivers. Prior to Wayland, he served as the inaugural director of the Men of Color Initiative at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Laing is the author of several peer-reviewed articles and reports that center on culturally relevant education, student voice, and equity in education. He is also co-editor (with independent scholar Dr. Ezella McPherson) of the forthcoming book titled, The (in)visible student support networks at HBCUs and PWIs for Black undergraduate and graduate students.

Laing is a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, where he majored in political science. He holds a master’s degree in the management of international public service organizations from New York University, a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a PhD in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.