UMSL’s new DEI coordinator is ready to shape the future

by | Jun 27, 2022

In his new role, Myron Burr will work collaboratively with campus departments to maintain the university's commitment to equity.
Man standing against a white background

Myron Burr, UMSL’s new DEI coordinator, is ready to assist in the university’s efforts to maintain its commitment to equity. (Photo by August Jennewein)

If you hear anyone whistling in the hallway at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, it’s likely to be Myron Burr, the university’s new coordinator of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

He’s a cheerful guy who found himself on the unexpected path to educating and engaging people about diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Indianapolis native has been working in higher education for nearly a decade. A college athlete who played football for DePauw University, he started his career at his alma mater as the assistant athletic director for athletics events and marketing. After three years there, he moved to St. Louis for a job at Lindenwood University doing enrollment management.

He eventually transitioned into academic affairs and became an instructional designer. While in this role, Burr decided to get his master’s degree in higher education, where part of his coursework included learning about issues of diversity and equity and how to apply the principles in daily life. He began thinking about how he could apply what he was learning about DEI to the university and became the co-chair of its DEI task force.

In that role, he got to know one of his professors, Shane Williams, better and discovered she was the chief diversity officer at the school. Impressed with his coursework and direction on the task force, she eventually gave him more responsibilities.

He was unaware Williams had been prepping him for more.

Several months after the two connected on the task force, Williams left the university and had shifted a lot of her responsibilities onto Burr. It was 2020, and there was a lot to navigate.

“I think she knew she was getting ready to leave and was like, ‘Hey, I think you would be great at taking over some of these responsibilities,’” Burr said. “I didn’t know that we were getting ready to have the summer of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor and a lot of different dynamics that went into the summer of 2020.”

With so much to discuss and process, Burr initially felt overwhelmed but ultimately found his footing and also helped others find their voice. He began planning a virtual “Day of Dialogue” for the university with Assistant Professor Amanda Harrod that provided a platform to examine and talk about issues of race and racial conflict featuring speakers and breakout sessions.

“We brought in faculty, students and staff,” Burr said of the inaugural event. “Everybody had a chance to participate in the dialogue. It was really impactful for the campus at that time. I don’t know, something just kind of clicked like, ‘This is where you belong, this is where you’re needed.’”

With the experience on the Lindenwood University DEI task force, Burr was well-positioned to transition to his current post as UMSL’s DEI coordinator. Tanisha Stevens, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, recognized his capacity to perform in the role.

“Myron is a collaborative partner with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Stevens said. “His experience and ability to build meaningful relationships is a welcome addition to the office and the university.

“In this new role, Myron will support DEI efforts across campus, work collaboratively with campus departments and committees that support engagement, retention efforts for students, strategic initiatives, programming and events, as well as marketing and communication efforts of the office.”

Burr was excited about the possibility of joining UMSL because of its demonstrated commitment to creating more equity in the community, and he is ready to jump in and help continue the work.

“I know we’re getting ready celebrate 60 years, and we’re transforming,” he said. “We’re in a unique position to figure out what the next 60 years look like. And I was intrigued by some of the work that was already happening like the Action Network, they’ve got the workforce development programs and they’re doing a lot with a bridge program. So, I’m excited. I’m like, ‘Hey, they’re putting their money where their mouth is.’”

Wendy Todd

Wendy Todd