David W. Robinson-Morris,Ph.D.
David W. Robinson-Morris, Ph.D. is the Regional Director of Diversity and Inclusion
of the Bayou Region for Ochsner Health. He is the Founding Director of The Center
for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit, former Assistant Professor in the
Division of Education and Counseling, and served as the university’s Assistant
Vice President of Development at Xavier University of Louisiana.
David holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Research with a dual
concentration in Higher Education Administration and Curriculum Theory,
and an Education Specialist (Ed. S.) Certificate in Educational Leadership with
a focus on applied research, measurement, and evaluation both
from Louisiana State University (LSU).
Dr. Robinson-Morris’ career as an upper-level administrator is grounded in his work as a social justice and human rights advocate and academic, whose engagements across several platforms including higher education institutions, government, human rights organizations, corporations, non-profit, religious, and philanthropic organizations seeks to impact policy, change practice, and uplift the human spirit wherever it is diminished.
Influenced by his understanding of Ubuntu—a South African philosophical notion of communalism and shared humanity—Dr. Robinson-Morris’ work promotes deep dialogical engagement as an approach to achieving racial, gender, and health equity when communities come to understand that our humanity is shared and is a quality we owe another. True equity and systemic transformation, in our communities and in our institutions, can only be realized when we come to understand difference as generative and the collective mandates systems to align policy and practice toward inclusion, which leads to a sense of belonging and mattering for every individual. His understanding of Ubuntu coupled with that of Eastern (Buddhist) philosophy informs his ongoing understanding of our shared, collective humanity.
As a scholar, David’s primary research centers on a single question: What does it mean to be a human being? This question continuously informs his approaches to management, organizational leadership, teaching, and community involvement.
Currently, Dr. Robinson-Morris is leading regional diversity and inclusion for Ochsner Health System’s Bayou region of the state of Louisiana. As the inaugural Regional Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the region, David is developing a comprehensive and strategic diversity and inclusion framework that maps onto the System’s overarching efforts to improve health equity and health outcomes, increase patient satisfaction and employee engagement, and create an inclusive environment to aid in employee retention and belonging. In addition to leading and developing the Bayou regional diversity and inclusion strategy, he is co-facilitating the System’s Quality and Nursing Diversity and Inclusion Work Groups, serves on the System’s Health Equity Council and Steering Committee for the D&I High Potential Mentorship Program.
Additionally, Dr. Robinson-Morris represents the System as member of the Vizient Vulnerable Patient Population Advisory Committee and the Region 3 Healthy Communities Coalition of the Louisiana Public Health Institute. David is also co-crafting the diversity and inclusion education curricular strategy and is liaising with the Ochsner Xavier Institute for Health Equity and Research, and Ochsner’s Community and Public Affairs COVID vaccine outreach efforts.
In 2018, Dr. Robinson-Morris founded the Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit at Xavier University of Louisiana. The Center was envisioned to serve as an anchor, a magnet, a beacon of hope, and a catalyst for change through research, community engagement, public scholarship, and public theology. Since its founding, The Center has worked to engage, support, and promote innovative thinking in a multiplicity of contexts and across disciplines regarding race, class, systemic inequities; and a faith that does justice toward a deeper understanding of issues impacting modern societies and vexing the human spirit. The Center’s work has focused on impacting policy, improving practice, and uplifting the human spirit within the areas of PK-16 educational equity, criminal justice reform, and environmental justice.
The global Coronavirus pandemic ushered in a programmatic focus on COVID-19, public health equity and the intersectional issues impacting Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and rural communities. In 2020, the Center hosted six public forums to educate communities about the pandemic. Physicians, scientists including public health experts, community leaders, elected officials, educators, and business professionals participated in the series, which collectively drew close to 3,000 attendees. In its public-facing activities, The Center proved a viable resource for citizens to gain clear knowledge and greater understanding of the virus, its transmission, and best practices for keeping themselves and their families safe during such an unprecedented time in history. The COVID-19 forums perhaps exemplify the greatest articulation of David’s philosophy that uplifts the collective by enriching one another and a deep interrogation of the intersectional issues that plague the most vulnerable in society.
Under Dr. Robinson-Morris’ leadership, the Center leveraged a $5,000 yearly institutional investment to raise $1.425 million; created dynamic programs like the Gilead Scholars for Equity and Justice, the XULA Investigative Stories Project; and through the generosity of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a pipeline program to increase the number of Black male teachers in public education. The Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit hosted national speakers and thought leaders and engaged the public through informative public scholarship and intellectually provocative convenings. The Center’s work within the areas of PK-16 educational equity, criminal legal system reform, and environmental justice are yielding promising results in the transformation of these systems in the city of New Orleans.
In addition to his equity work, research, and scholarly activism, David formerly served as a higher education executive fundraiser liaising with local, regional, and national foundations and corporations to meet the growing institutional and educational needs of the Xavier University of Louisiana community; he was instrumental in securing Xavier’s largest gift by an individual donor—$20 million—and on average raised $4.5 million per year.
As an assistant professor in the Division of Education and Counseling at Xavier, Dr. Robinson-Morris also taught educational leadership doctoral courses. Previously, he instructed higher education administration masters and doctoral students at the University of New Orleans and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as an adjunct professor teaching courses in quantitative and qualitative research methodology, college student development theory, the history of higher education, and teaching, learning, and curriculum in higher education. Dr. Robinson-Morris lectures frequently in his free time and continues to serve on dissertation committees at both Xavier and the University of New Orleans. He is currently teaching a doctoral level qualitative methodologies course at the University of New Orleans.
David previously held graduate assistantships in LSU Community University Partnerships (CUP) in Equity, Diversity and Community Outreach, has served as senior publicist to the former mayor of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, as a higher education administrator at Loyola University New Orleans, where he served for four years as the associate director of alumni relations; and as director of development (fundraising) for both the Capital One-New Beginnings Charter Schools Network and Breakthrough New Orleans at Isidore Newman School.
Dr. Robinson-Morris is an active member in several organizations including: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Association of Fundraising Professionals, (AFP), the African American Development Officers Network, and the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, to name a few.
Currently, David serves on the boards of the city of New Orleans Human Relations Commission and as co-chair of the Commission’s Truth and Reconciliation subcommittee, vice president of the St. Charles Avenue Center for Faith+Action, member of the Forum for Equality Foundation (Louisiana) Board of Directors, vice president of the College Beyond Board of Directors, board member of the Leona Tate Foundation for Change, past board chair for Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans (EPNO), member of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) Louisiana Steering Committee, member of the Academic Advisory Committee of E. Pluribus Unum Fund, and Higher Education Cluster Co-Leader for the Campaign for Equity New Orleans (CENO). Dr. Robinson-Morris is a member of the Louisiana Budget Project Board of Directors, serves as a Community Advisory on The Historic New Orleans Collection’s Board of Directors’ Acquisitions Committee, is a member of the historic city of New Orleans Street Renaming Commission’s Outreach and Research subcommittees, the Loyola University New Orleans Historic Naming Committee, the Overcoming Racism Committee for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and is an appointed member of Governor John Bel Edwards’ Louisiana Climate Initiatives Task Force Equity Advisory Group. He is a founding member of the Charles Deslondes Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
David is a former member of the Historic New Orleans Collection’s DEI Strategic Planning Advisory Council, Son of a Saint Foundation Advisory Board, Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans Board of Directors, the Loyola University New Orleans Alumni Association Board of Directors, and is a founding board member of Propeller (née Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans).
Dr. Robinson-Morris’ scholarly activity includes published peer reviewed articles in educational journals, a book chapter on higher education curriculum development and (de/) reform, presentations at academic conferences, and is the author of a research monograph titled, Ubuntu and Buddhism in Higher Education: An Ontological (Re)Thinking published by Routledge and released in November 2018. In 2016, his dissertation was 1st place in the 2016 American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE) Dissertation Award competition.
Dr. Robinson-Morris obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Communications – Public Relations from Loyola University New Orleans in 2006, Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of New Orleans in 2011, Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 2015, and an Educational Specialist Certificate in 2016. He is a native of Galveston, Texas.