Search for diversity officer continues

Applications for the University's newly established Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity are due Monday.

The position was outlined in and prescribed by the report given by the President's Commission on Diversity and Equity in the summer of 2004. University President John T. Casteen III charged the Commission, headed by Politics Prof. Michael Smith and Angela Davis, with evaluating issues of diversity and equity in the fall of 2003.

Since the Commission made its report at a June 11, 2004 Board of Visitors meeting, the identity of a new Chief Officer of Diversity and Equity has been up in the air.

However, in October 2004, the University's Procurement Office enlisted the help of Greenwood and Associates to oversee the search for the new officer.

"We often use search firms for high-level searches at the University," said Kelli Palmer, assistant to the president and search committee member.

Along with Greenwood and Associates, 12 members of the University community -- including professors, undergraduate and graduate students -- comprise a search committee chaired by Vice President for Finance Yoke San Reynolds. Casteen elected the members of the search committee.

While Greenwood and Associates will provide guidelines for the application and interview process, the University search committee is ultimately responsible for the selection of the new officer.

"It is really a collaborative process," Palmer said. "They don't make any hard, fast decisions for us."

Applicants are submitting resumes, cover letters and three references to Greenwood and Associates. The search committee is also taking nominations for the position.

Students can become actively involved in the selection process by making nominations, Palmer said.

"Everyone is welcome to nominate people -- and students have a wealth of knowledge," she said. "They can contribute to the process and we hope that they feel free to."

The search committee is engaging in a broad, national search in order to fill the position, Palmer said.

Although the application deadline for full consideration is Monday, the search committee will continue to accept applications and begin the interview and evaluation process as the semester continues.

"We are engaged in the search process right now and we hope to have it wrapped up by semester end," Palmer said.

The search committee is aiming for July 1, 2005 as the start date for the new officer.

While there is no precedent for the role a Chief Officer of Diversity and Equity might play at the University, the search committee is looking to fill an ambitious job description.

The officer's responsibilities will include advising the president on issues of diversity and equity, recruiting and retaining staff and students as well as supporting research into diversity and equity, according to the President's Web site announcing the new position.

Student Council President Noah Sullivan said he hoped students will take an active role in the continued search.

"If you look at the Commission report, which this position comes from, at least one half to three quarters of the recommendations are directly related to students," Sullivan said. "Student participation is very important since so much directly impacts and affects students."

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