Notre Dame College Names Alumna, Diversity Expert 2018 Abrahamic Center Distinguished Lecturer

Notre Dame College has named an alumna, nationally recognized psychologist and international diversity thought leader as its Abrahamic Center Distinguished Lecturer in 2018.

Deborah L. Plummer, '74, Ph.D., vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School and professor of psychiatry and quantitative health sciences in the medical school and its graduate school of nursing, will present Notre Dame’s Abrahamic Center Distinguished Lecture on Tuesday, November 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Regina Auditorium on the College campus.

In her address, titled “Radical Respect in Troubling Times,” she is expected to discuss how to foster admiration, dignity and civility in the midst of tense race, immigration, gender equality and religious liberty issues and campaigns for the rights of those with disabilities. She will present how even those who disagree can pull from their own multiple and intersecting identities to foster components of respect and interface.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Abrahamic Center at the College develops educational programs fostering mutual respect among all peoples and celebrating religious, racial and cultural diversity for the College and the Greater Cleveland community.

Diversity Officer and Psychology Faculty

As chief diversity officer at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care, Plummer has primary responsibility for developing and executing a coordinated and comprehensive diversity plan that cultivates an inclusive academic health sciences center.

As a faculty member in the Departments of Psychiatry and Quantitative Health Sciences and the Graduate School of Nursing, she continues research on diversity metrics and cross-racial friendships while teaching cultural competence in healthcare and strategies for reducing health disparities. Plummer is the lead author in the design and development of the Diversity Engagement Survey (DES), a tool for measuring diversity and inclusion in organizations. 

Prior to her position at UMass, Plummer served as chief diversity officer for the Cleveland Clinic and as a psychology professor and director of the Diversity Management Program at Cleveland State University.

She also has worked as a staff psychologist and as principal consultant for D.L. Plummer & Associates, which provided diversity and change management strategies for over 80 organizations in the U.S. and United Kingdom. In 2016, Deborah was named by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the Top 15 Chief Diversity Officers to Know. 

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology and English from Notre Dame in 1974, Plummer earned a Master of Education degree in community consultation and a doctorate in counseling psychology, both from Kent State University.

Published Author and Editor

As a writer, Plummer is the editor of the Handbook of Diversity Management (Rowman and Littlefield) and author of Racing Across the Lines: Changing Race Relations through Friendships (Pilgrim Press), which received the publisher’s Mayflower Award for best publication in the category of church and society.

She has also authored several book chapters and published numerous journal articles to the professional community on racial identity development and managing diverse work environments. She has written for Diversity Executive and Boston Globe Magazine.

Her recent publication is Advancing Inclusion: A Guide for Effective Diversity Council and Employee Resource Group Membership (Half Dozen Publications). Her essay “The Girl from the Ghetto” is published in the anthology All the Women in My Family Sing: Women Write the World—Essays on Equality, Justice and Freedom (NBTT Publications). 

Her new book, Some of My Friends Are…The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross-Racial Friendships will be published in 2019 by Beacon Press.

Community and Professional Servant Leader

Plummer also has been active in the community as a member of The Links, Incorporated, an international professional organization for women of color; Diverse Professionals Roundtable of the Worcester, Mass., Regional Chamber of Commerce; and In Counsel with Women, a network of executive women from profit and nonprofit organizations in Northeast Ohio.

She is a board member of GrubStreet, one of the nation's leading writing centers in Boston, and active in leadership roles with Facing History and Ourselves, a global organization that empowers people to think critically about history and to understand the impact of their choices. 


About the Notre Dame College Abrahamic Center

The Abrahamic Center is a direct outgrowth of the innovative work of Notre Dame’s Tolerance Resource Center, which has provided significant opportunities for research, outreach and education on the Holocaust, anti-bias issues and diversity for nearly 15 years.

The initiative honors Abraham’s status as: patriarch of the three great monotheistic traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam; paragon of hospitality and welcoming the “Other;” and prophet of social justice and peace.

September 2018

About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or




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