Holley Locher House2017 Rising Alumni

Holley Locher House

Holley Locher is chief of staff for the University of Minnesota College of Design, and is recognized in the college as a champion of advancing diversity. Holley has a master’s and Ph.D. in educational policy and administration, and says her time in CEHD taught her to see, question, and challenge institutional discrimination. Within the College of Design, she has instituted new hiring practices and created a stronger community to promote inclusion. Holley has also become a campus leader for equity issues, participating in the Diversity Community of Practice and guiding cross-unit conversations.


Chief of Staff, University of Minnesota College of Design

Please list any professional accomplishments you wish to mention.

  • Presenter at Association for the Study of Higher Education, Critical Race Studies in Education Association, Keeping our Faculty of Color, and Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange conferences
  • Co-author of the College of Design's Search Processes and Procedures for Faculty and Staff
  • Lead for the College of Design's diversity climate assessment and college-wide response strategy to improve climate

Please list any past or current volunteer activities.

Spanish translator for a tax service

Please list any awards or honors from your collegiate, professional, or volunteer experiences.

  • Outstanding Contributions to Equity and Diversity Award, College of Design
  • Nominated and funded participant of the Association for the Study of Higher Education Graduate Student Policy Seminar

What is your favorite memory from the University of Minnesota?

The friendships I developed with my classmates when we were studying for our doctoral written prelims. And then, of course, passing the written prelims.

What professor(s) or course(s) were most influential during your time in CEHD?

OLPD 8702 – Administration and Leadership in Higher Education with Dr. Melissa Anderson

OLPD 5721 – Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education with Dr. Rebecca Ropers-Huilman

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

Via my studies in CEHD, I developed my passion for equity and diversity, particularly in higher education. I learned to see, question, and challenge institutional discrimination; I gained empathy and understanding for those different than me; and I learned how theory, research, and practice can merge to improve equity for all.

What skills are important to succeed as an emerging professional today?

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Resilience
  • Diligence
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Empathy
  • Ambition

Who has inspired you the most during your career?

Dr. Rebecca Ropers-Huilman

When you have 30 minutes of free time, what do you do?

Run or yoga

How do others describe you?

Funny, smart, hard-working, sarcastic, personable, adventurous

How do you describe yourself?


What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

If you could have coffee with anyone from history, who would it be?

Michelle Obama

What gets you excited about work?

  • Developing other staff and faculty
  • Developing diversity-related policy and procedure
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Band Director

Outside of your job, how do you grow professionally?

I read, travel, and socialize with others.

What is a "fun fact" about you?

I never had wisdom teeth, so I'm very likely the next step in evolution.