Atkins works to bring greater diversity to MSU campus


Dr. Caroline Atkins, assistant professor of criminal justice and assistant to the president for strategic initiatives, has a passion for being in the classroom. It’s that passion that she said led her to work at universities across the Commonwealth, at the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education (CPE) and ultimately, to Morehead State.  

Along each step in her career, Atkins has learned new skills and strategies that allowed her to help students succeed.   

“I really enjoy interacting with students in the classroom and in campus-based activities. I derive energy from my time with students and learn so much from them,” Atkins said. “I think that what I enjoy best is being able to help students on the pathway to success, whether that is academically, economically, or socially or in other ways.”  

Prior to coming to MSU in July 2018, Atkins was a senior associate at the CPE. She had numerous duties, including assisting CPE staff and campus chief diversity officers with the development and implementation of campus-based diversity and inclusion plans in support of student success, particularly for underrepresented minority students.   

Atkins’ work at the CPE ties directly to her work in the president’s office at MSU. She is the University’s chief diversity officer who developed the campus’ diversity plan. Atkins also works to identify and recruit underutilized and diverse applicants for vacant employment positions, serve on hiring committees, place low-income and underrepresented minority students in campus-based employment and assist the Office of Enrollment Services with special recruitment events.   

“I like walking across campus and hearing a student yell, ‘Hey Dr. Atkins! I hope you’re having a great day,’ or having a student approach me in the food court to share a news story they heard related to a recent topic of discussion in class.”

-Dr. Caroline Atkins

Atkins has covered a lot of ground since she first came to campus, including working with Bluegrass Tomorrow to host an IdeaFest, serving as a member of the Prichard Committee on Postsecondary Affordability and serving as co-facilitator for the Tri-State Conference on Diversity and Inclusion. Still, she said she’s particularly proud of one of the things she’s accomplished in her time here.   

“I’m very proud that we have revitalized our diversity advisory council, the Eagle Diversity and Inclusion Team (EDIT). The EDIT is doing great work and will continue to do so in the coming academic year,” she said.  

Prior to the CPE, she was the director of the training resource center and regional academic outreach at Murray State University from 1996 to 2016.  

Atkins earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science from Eastern Kentucky University and an Ed.D. in Postsecondary Leadership from Western Kentucky University. In addition to working with the president, she teaches classes in criminology and juvenile delinquency and plans to teach a class on correctional institutions in the fall.   

Atkins received a 2019 Apple Award for Educational Excellence at this year’s Student Choice Awards, sponsored by the MSU Student Government Organization (SGA).  

Despite the importance of her roles at MSU, Atkins said it’s the interactions with students that give her fulfillment.  

Outside of MSU, Atkins serves as a mentor to young women and enjoys sewing, crocheting and hiking in her free time.   

To learn more about programs in MSU’s Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminology, visit, email Dr. Dianna Murphy at or call 606-783-2656.  

For more information about MSU’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, visit, email Atkins at or call 606-783-9381.