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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

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  

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.  

What's Next? 

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  

 If you haven't yet done so, please do take a moment to review the action steps and complete the feedback survey found at 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. 

Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College | 10 Comments |
The following comments are the opinions of the individuals who posted them. They do not necessarily represent the position of Intercom or Ithaca College, and the editors reserve the right to monitor and delete comments that violate College policies.
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Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from abarlas on 11/11/2015
Wonder if what IC needs to tackle racism is another Chief Something or
Another Officer (a bureaucrat). There is already a President's Advisory
Committee on Diversity (PAC-D)-- which doesn't have any teeth since it
reports to the president and must remain within certain confines-- as
well as other units/ programs/ people on campus who are involved in
"diversity." The problem is lack of vision, will, and leadership, not of
personnel. The problem is also one of exclusion: that is, of ignoring
and excluding the voices and concerns of faculty, students and staff of
color in brainstorming for solutions. A CDO who reports to the
president can easily become another one of the president's (wo)men
given his need to control everyone and to discourage dissent.
Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from jpenaper on 11/11/2015
Hi Tom, why not appoint Roger as Chief Diversity Officer, PERIOD! if he can do the job for a year, and provide the leadership we need, then why not just appoint him? Why look for expertise somewhere else when we have it in the house?
Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from jpfrehm on 11/11/2015
I'm going to echo ablarlas's comment above: The last thing that IC needs
is another addition to its thicket of upper-

According to pay, a Chief Diversity Officer earns an average
salary of $120,00. Throw in benefits and IC is looking at, maybe, 150
grand a year to finance this one individual's job. That's more than two
faculty positions. That's more than a few (much needed!) staff and/or
facility positions.

All this for one senior-level position that reports directly to the seniorest of
senior posts.

You know who's losing out most? The students, current and especially
future. You are the ones who end up paying for these explosive back-end
costs to higher education.

While I commend IC students, and POC @ IC in particular, on giving voice
to their concerns, I don't think they realize the long-term administrative
and financial upshots.

Second, why is it that President Rochon can simply snap his fingers and,
overnight, call into being a new upper-administrative position--while the
faculty often have to fight tooth and nail, and navigate a web of red tape,
just to get permission to fill a vacated tenure-track position? Aren't the
students here to be taught? Last I checked, a CDO's duties don't extend
to the classroom (that space on campus where students actually get their
money's worth).

Moreover, over the last two years, IC has eliminated tens of administrative
assistants and other useful staff posts. This has resulted in more work
and less support for many departments. (And none of those salaries were
in the 100+k range!) This is alarming. It's part of what's led to the
reported "low morale" on campus. And while I don't deign to trot out my
own solutions to the campus's current challenges, I believe that the
answer lies not in adding yet another cumbersome corridor to IC's
labyrinth of offices and administrators.

According to the Huffington Post: "From 1987 until 2011-12—the most
recent academic year for which comparable figures are available—
universities and colleges collectively added 517,636 administrators and
professional employees, or an average of 87 every working day"
growth_n_4738584.html). In the National Center for Policy Analysis study,
to which the Huffington Post actually refers, the author concludes:

"The number of administrative positions in colleges and universities has
soared in recent years, contributing to 'administrative bloat'. The rise of a
large class of administrators not only adds to bureaucratic complexity, but
also forces universities to spend more money on wages, benefits,
pensions and so forth."

The answer to IC's diversity sensitivity challenges should be pursued in
the classroom, with constructive interactions among students, faculty,
and administrators. The answer isn't in further bloating an already bloated
administrative machinery.
Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from jablard on 11/11/2015
Thank you for that post. I can tell you that probably 90%
of faculty share this point of view.
Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from smonagan on 11/11/2015
May I respectfully suggest to the president that one of the best actions he could take right now is to clear his schedule, sit 8 hours a day in the campus center for a week and listen to whomever comes up to talk to him. Maybe no one will talk to him. Maybe people will shout at him. Now is the time to listen to anyone who has anything to say, to model leadership that is receptive and open, brave and courageous. What a message this action would send to this community right now!
Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from haase on 11/11/2015
This is a great suggestion and I respectfully agree.
Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from abarlas on 11/11/2015
Might be a good learning experience for the president but no amount of listening at this point can reverse or undo the damage inflicted by the past seven years of his tenure on any number of fronts.
Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from kmcwhorter on 11/12/2015
I am a new student and I am for the most part privileged
so I can't state too much opinion on this. But I do know
that a president who is active with campus life is
important. The president of my former college was always
seen walking around campus, and would even get to know
students by name. Every month the president held a forum
where the students and all of the deans of the college
would take students questions and concerns and discuss
them. This would not be a time for students to hear what
the president has to say. But it would be a time for the
president to hear what the students have to say and
discuss their concerns WITH THEM. The president does not
need to have all of the answers, they don't necessarily
need to know everyone's struggles, at the end of the day
they are human, and they need to recognize that simply by
being the frickin' president of a college they are in a
position of privilege and power. So they don't even know
the present struggle of a college student coming from a
low income family, and they may not know what racism
happens behind closed doors on this campus. So giving
some voice to the faculty, staff, and students is vital,
even when it comes to problem solving and tackling issues
on campus such as discrimination.

At the end of the day it is still sad that this is even
an issue. Discrimination should not be tolerated by
anyone and a college especially should take it seriously
given the fact that most of their students cannot easily
walk away from it. It can happen in their dorms, their
required classes, and by faculty and staff. I don't know
exactly what the students want to do in order to address
that issue. The president cannot prevent it but he can
set a standard and make sure it is handled with full
respect of the victims well-being and education in mind.
Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from moconnor on 11/11/2015
President Rochon, when you say that "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," I wonder, with whom are you conversing?
You are "confident" that adding another administrator--reportable to you--
is the way to proceed; you hand down "action plans" and create more
committees. You seem to think that this represents action. You use the
word "we," when it is obvious that you mean "I," except when it comes to
accepting responsibility ("mistakes were made"). When will you include
faculty and students in discussing how we should tackle the challenges
we face, instead of issuing decisions from on high?
Announcing a Chief Diversity Officer for Ithaca College Comment from bmyers on 11/12/2015
How you tackle racism and bias by delegating it to an action committee or appointing a czar is beyond me. That is because the source of bias is within us all. It pervades our global society and it is only by changing the perception that the response will change. This isn't a problem that originated in someone else. It is there to find in all of us. And it is all of us that will have to decide to judge and interact with others based solely on the content of their character before bias will disappear.