Marilyn Sanders Mobley


Dr. Marilyn Sanders Mobley is the Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity and Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Appointed to this inaugural Cabinet-level position in 2009, she serves as Chief Diversity Officer and provides strategic leadership for the university-wide effort to develop and sustain a welcoming environment for faculty, students, staff, and alumni. She founded the university’s Diversity Leadership Council, led the effort to develop the first Diversity Strategic Action Plan, and oversees various collaborative efforts, programs and initiatives designed to give visibility, accountability, and impact to the university’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity both on campus across the eight schools and in the community.

Her efforts have been recognized by the Commission on Economic Inclusion, DiversityInc, the Women of Color Foundation and Insight into Diversity. She is a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2010 and serves as a trustee for the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation, and Women of Hope, a non-profit devoted to assisting women seeking to re-enter their communities. She serves on the board of Directors of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and is a sought-after thought leader and speaker in the US and elsewhere.
Prior to her appointment at CWRU, Dr. Mobley served as Provost at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina. Prior to her provost appointment, she was the Associate Provost for Educational Programs and a tenured Associate Professor of English, at George Mason University, where she was a faculty member for 19 years. She founded the African American Studies Program at George Mason University and served as its first director for six years. She has taught at Howard University, Marygrove College and Wayne State University. She has a PhD in English from Case Western Reserve University, a master's degree in English from New York University and a bachelor's degree from Barnard College of Columbia University. She has done postdoctoral coursework at the Howard University School of Divinity, participated in the ACE Women’s Leadership Roundtable and completed the executive leadership program in higher education at Harvard University.

Dr. Mobley is a published author of numerous book chapters and articles and a Toni Morrison scholar, whose first book— Folk Roots and Mythic Wings in Sarah Orne Jewett and Toni Morrison: The Cultural Function of Narrative (LSU Press, 1991)—was one of the first cross-cultural studies on the Nobel Prize winning author. Her book in progress, Spaces for the Reader: Toni Morrison's Narrative Poetics and Cultural Politics, examines Morrison’s work at the intersection of literary and cultural studies. Dr. Mobley is a founding member, former president and former board member of the Toni Morrison Society. Her teaching, research and scholarship in literary studies, cultural studies and higher education have all focused on race, gender, class, social justice, diversity and inclusion. She has consulted as a thought leader in these areas for more than 30 years, and has presented her research and scholarship at various conferences around the country and in Canada, Kenya, Italy, England, Russia, France, and Portugal. Her 2013 TEDxTalk is on the Paradox of Diversity.
Dr. Mobley is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and is the proud mother of two adult sons and a grandmother of three grandsons. Her memoir, The Strawberry Room and Other Places Where a Woman Finds Herself (Westbow Press, 2016) is a narrative mosaic that tells the story of her spiritual journey from personal trauma to ministry. She serves as a lay minister at Arlington Church of God in Akron, Ohio and resides in Shaker Heights, Ohio.