Seton Hill University welcomes new dean of students and diversity officer

Adriel Hilton comes from Webster University’s Myrtle Beach Metropolitan extended campus as chief administrative officer to Seton Hill. Photo from

Seton Hill University hired Adriel Hilton to become the dean of students and diversity officer after a national search. Hilton started his position on June 1.

“This a new position, essentially,” Hilton said. “I’ve done this work in the past, but this an opportunity to dive in and do this work.”

Hilton “will be responsible for coordinating tangible efforts that support Seton Hill’s Catholic mission, co-curricular learning and the university’s four pillars of welcoming, learning, celebrating and serving,” according to SHU’s website.

“Everything is tied to the strategic plan of the university,” Hilton said. “My goal is to make sure that all students feel welcomed. Definitely that students of color, non-majority students see Seton Hill as an institution of choice.”

Hilton received his bachelor’s degree in administration and finance at Morehouse College in Georgia. The fact that Morehouse was Martin Luther King Jr.’s college was a “deciding factor” in his school choice.

Hilton then went on to earn his master’s degree in public administration at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and his doctorate in higher education administration from Morgan State University in Maryland.

“What inspires me is to see a student come in freshman year, very shy, timid, may not want to get actively involved, and then by senior year they’re actually president, running campus,” Hilton said. “That’s student affairs at work. That’s the field, that’s the study, that’s why I’m here. I want to get the students actively engaged.”

His first job was as a public policy fellow with the Greater Baltimore Committee, similar to chamber of commerce. While in Florida, Hilton worked on the Florida Senate Committee of Education.

“I want to show them that college is a necessity,” Hilton said. “Education is key. The sky is the limit. They can accomplish anything they want to accomplish by getting the experiences they need throughout their four years in college. I want to give back to persons that gave to me. I want to give back to the students that come behind me.”

Hilton says new students at SHU should “hone their communication skills,” “develop their four year plan of action,” “get a mentor” and “get actively engaged and involved” to get the most out of their college experience.

“Learn how to write, learn how to communicate, learn how to speak,” Hilton said. “Communication is key.”

Hilton served as the director of the extended campus and chief administrative officer at Webster University in Maryland prior to this position. He also held various positions of leadership at Grambling State University and Upper Iowa University, as well as worked as a professor at Western Carolina University.

Hilton’s interview process included an online video interview, then an on-campus interview. Hilton appreciated the atmosphere of SHU’s campus and was also interested in being close to Pittsburgh and close to the athletics and arts the city has to offer.

“I truly enjoyed my experience,” Hilton said. “I went to undergrad at a small liberal arts institution, and returning to a small liberal arts institution is where I want to be.”
Hilton was in born and raised in Miami, Fla. Hilton’s mother and father are from Summerton, S.C.

“It’s iconic because of the Briggs v. Elliott case, which desegregated South Carolina schools,” Hilton said. “My families were very actively engaged and involved in those cases. They’re both from low-income families that didn’t have anything, and they did extremely well. If they can achieve, then I can achieve.”

Other mentors to Hilton include Patricia Green-Powell, vice president of student affairs at Florida A&M, Hampshire Cohan, secretary to the board of Howard University and Clinton Coleman.
“They’ve always been supportive of me,” Hilton said.

Hilton will be working closely with Elise Michaux, director of student involvement, Matthew Zielinski, director of student development, Keisha Jimmerson, associate dean of campus life and director of multicultural and international services, and other student engagement staff.
“I’m excited to be here,” Hilton said. “Everyone is very, very welcoming.”

“Adriel Hilton’s experience in higher education as both an administrator and faculty member makes him well-suited for the newly-created position of dean of students and diversity officer at Seton Hill,” said Rosalie Carpenter, vice president for student affairs, on SHU’s website. “Adriel’s outstanding and strategic leadership will help Seton Hill advance student success and engagement and support the university’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness.”

Published By: Stephen Dumnich

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