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Contributed by Thomas Rochon on 11/10/2015
Today I am announcing the creation of a new position at Ithaca College: Chief Diversity Officer. The position, which will report directly to me, will provide clear leadership and ownership over the implementation of our ongoing work to improve our campus's racial climate and build a culture that lives up to its values of civility, mutual respect, and justice.
It has become clear to me that, although we have taken some steps in the right direction, I will need the counsel and full-time focus of a strong and experienced leader with deep knowledge in this area in order to make progress with appropriate speed, inclusivity, accountability, and transparency. Other institutions have been able to engender lasting change by establishing this level of accountability, and I am confident that this is the right thing for Ithaca College as well.
Although I and other campus leaders will remain at the forefront of this priority, I will look to the Chief Diversity Officer to serve as the permanent hub that connects efforts from around the campus on diversity and inclusion; refine our plans so that they truly serve the needs of our community; help our campus forge stronger and more trusting working relationships; articulate the value of diversity, inclusiveness, and equity and how they have a positive impact on our educational mission; help us respond quickly to reported incidents of bias or discrimination; and hold all of us at the college accountable for our commitments to action.
A national search for the position will launch before the end of this semester, and I expect to conclude the search in the spring. However, I do not want to lose precious momentum on the work that we have begun. Therefore, I have asked Roger "Doc" Richardson, associate provost for diversity, inclusion, and engagement, to serve in this role on an interim basis. Dr. Richardson officially assumed the role on Friday, November 6, and will serve in this capacity until a permanent candidate fills this position. He will continue to serve as associate provost during this period as well, and I am grateful that he has agreed to take on this additional responsibility to lead our efforts during such a critical period.
The Council on Diversity and Inclusion -- established this fall to serve as a permanent standing council with responsibility for assessing, monitoring, and initiating recommendations to improve and enhance diversity and inclusion initiatives -- will continue to report to Dr. Richardson so that their work can continue without interruption. He also will advise the President's Council directly on all matters relevant to these issues, institution-wide. Dr. Richardson also will provide regular updates to our campus community on progress against the college's plans to address racism and cultural bias, as outlined at ithaca.edu/diversity/plans.
Dr. Richardson comes to this task with nearly four decades of higher education experience, including 15 years at Ithaca College, where he has built solid relationships with students, faculty, alumni, and others on and off campus. His accomplishments include founding the college's Martin Luther King Scholar Program and co-chairing the President's Advisory Council on Diversity. Prior to coming to Ithaca College, Richardson served as founding director of the Office for African American, Latino, and Asian American Student Services at New York University for 12 years. More information about Richardson, including ways you can reach him, can be found at ithaca.edu/diversity/plans/officer.
About the Search Process
We will conduct a national search for a permanent Chief Diversity Officer. Given the importance of the duties of this position for the entire campus, the composition of the committee and the search process itself will be inclusive and transparent, with special attention to the needs and perspectives of students, faculty, and staff. You will hear from me with an update on committee membership, along with the finalized job posting, before we depart for our winter break.
You will hear from Dr. Richardson by the beginning of next week, with additional updates on our action plan. In the meantime, if you have questions or suggestions about the Chief Diversity Officer position or search process, I encourage you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven't yet done so, please do take a moment to review the action steps and complete the feedback survey found at ithaca.edu/diversity. About 50 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents have submitted responses to date, and I am reading every submission. I want to assure you that your voices are being heard and will help shape the refinements that we make.
We have an opportunity -- and the moral necessity -- to use this moment of intensity to make a real difference on the longstanding issues of racism and inclusion. The conversations we are having are difficult, but we are NOT avoiding those conversations at IC right now, and that is a good thing. Our challenge is to turn those conversations into productive actions that make a real difference. I believe we can do it, and I ask that you join me in trying. Nothing is more important right now than the well-being of every student, staff, and faculty member in our community.
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