Cheryl Grills Appointed President's Professor in the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

March 16, 2021

Dear LMU Community:

I am honored to announce that I have appointed Cheryl Tawede Grills, Ph.D., as President’s Professor in the LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Grills, who holds the rank of professor in the Psychology Department, is an extraordinary teacher-scholar, leader, activist, and visionary who routinely inspires all who are fortunate enough to cross her path. 

An LMU President's Professor is an academic whose work has achieved national and international distinction. The rank of President's Professor is bestowed upon individuals whose achievements go beyond those of a tenured full professor. The five other President's Professors are: Antonia Darder, LMU School of Education; Beth Henley, LMU College of Communication and Fine Arts; Martha McCarthy, LMU School of Education; Eric Strauss, LMU Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering; and David Stewart, LMU College of Business Administration. 

Professor Grills exemplifies the President’s Professor criteria in ways legion. She is an exceptional scholar with outstanding research productivity of more than 50 peer-reviewed published articles and chapters. Her penchant for interdisciplinary scholarship is evident in her publications and awards across many disciplines, including: community, counseling, clinical, health, developmental, and African and Black psychology; public health; medicine; cultural studies; and criminology. While attaining these accomplishments, she has mentored undergraduate students, graduate students, post-docs, research scholars, and faculty at LMU and across the United States.

The impact of her emancipatory work spans the globe, bringing understanding and comfort to people in need. Through innovative community-based research, she has addressed health disparities, homelessness, and education reform. Professor Grills also developed Emotional Emancipation Circles, a highly sought-after training that allows community members to recognize and alleviate the distress associated with racism and implicit bias, while creating community-based self-help models to address the negative effects of racism on people of African ancestry in the U.S. and globally. One can learn more about Professor Grills’s accomplishments here.

Professor Grills founded the Ghana Study Abroad program, Kente graduation, the Psychology Early Awareness Program (PEAP) living-learning community, and was one of the founding developers of The Learning Community (a first-year retention program for African American undergraduates). She founded the grant-funded Psychology Applied Research Center (PARC) at LMU in 2009. PARC collaborates with a variety of community-based organizations and groups to inform social change and community empowerment through applied, action-oriented research. Under the direction of Professor Grills, PARC has been awarded significant grants for local and national projects. Notably, her California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP), developed in response to disparities that exist in mental health care for diverse populations and funded by the Office of Health Equity at the California Department of Public Health, is the largest grant that LMU has received to date. Each of these programs has evolved and transformed lives under Professor Grills’s loving guidance.

Among myriad awards, Professor Grills has received: the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI-LA Urban) Honors for Excellence in Turning Research into Action; the Charlotta Bass Award, which recognizes community leaders who impact social change in South L.A.; the National Association of Black Psychologists Service Award; the National Association of Black Psychologists Distinguished Psychologist Award; and the U.S. President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation Volunteer Service Award. She received the 2017-18 BCLA Daum Professorship Award for her consequential record of excellence in teaching and advising, scholarship, service, and leadership.

Rep. Karen Bass has praised Professor Grills for her ability to implement solutions that impact people in real time. Dean Robbin Crabtree notes that Professor Grills’s vision exhibits the alchemy between the scholarly imagination, the principled development and use of social scientific methods, the deployment of a sophisticated intercultural lens and operational competence, a honed sense of vocation and purpose, and a longing for justice. 

We will host an installation ceremony in the fall semester to celebrate the distinction Professor Grills brings to our university. I must add, following reviewing her substantial accomplishments, she is one of the few among us for whom one cannot determine how she gets so much done, given the length of our days!

Please join me in congratulating Professor Grills on her appointment as President’s Professor in BCLA, and please also join me in thanking Dean Crabtree and the search committee, who stewarded a yearlong process to help attract top-quality candidates and bring to light the accomplishments of each.


Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.