Inclusivity leadership position finalists to hold public forums

Inclusivity leadership position finalists to hold public forums

The Intercultural Diversity Center is located in the Riverside Village annex between the Riverside West and Riverside East dorms.

Public forums will be presented by the four remaining finalists for the vice president and associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion at the University throughout this week. 

The finalists are Shakeer Abdullah from The University of Minnesota, Bryan Fair from The University of Alabama School of Law, Wanda Heading-Grant from The University of Vermont and G. Christine Taylor from Purdue University. 

Each forum will be held in Room 1014 in North Lawn Hall.

According to UA News, Heading-Grant will present on Monday, March 20, for faculty and staff at 10 a.m. and then present for students at 11 a.m. 

Fair will present on Tuesday, March 21, for faculty and staff at 1:30 p.m. and then for students at 2:30 p.m.

Abdullah will present for faculty and staff at 4 p.m. and for students at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 23.

The last candidate, Taylor, will present on Friday, March 24 for faculty and staff at 9:30 a.m. and for students at 10:30 a.m.

Shelby Norman, a senior majoring in political science and the search committee’s student representative, said the University did a good job of making each presentation easily available to students. Norman will attend each candidate’s public forum.

“I find that these times are more accessible, and so I think that helps a lot with the transparency aspect,” Norman said.

Because this new position is intended to have heavy involvement with students, Norman said she thinks students will appreciate getting to know the finalists through their presentations before the final selection is announced.

“The position has so much to do with direct interaction with students, and students are going to want to know that they have somewhat of a say, no matter how the candidates’ experience on campus is,” Norman said.

Norman said input from those attending the presentations will most likely be gathered so that student, faculty and staff opinions are considered in the search committee's final decision.

Gevin Brown, a senior majoring in design for social inclusion in New College, said he thinks this new position will streamline a lot of diversity efforts. Because offices such as Crossroads, the Women and Gender Resource Center and the SOURCE all work together but are in their own pockets, it is difficult for students to get the help they need. He feels having each effort streamline into one cohesive unit will be easier for each office to do more and help students at once.

“I think, too, it’ll be nice to kind of express to the student body, and to alumni and whoever else, that we’re committed to diversity in a very strong, obvious way, not with a bunch of random offices across our campus doing similar jobs,” Brown said.

In order to make this position effective in streamlining diversity efforts, Brown said the person selected needs to have not only lots of administrative authority but also the ability to be compassionate with students.

“We need to have someone who’s good at building a community and establishing a great stronghold here as opposed to just a dominant person,” he said.

Brown is pleased that the University has not become out of touch with the students and has allowed the public forums and the search to be open.

“I’m happy that we as a student body, and faculty and staff as well, can go and check out who is going to be our new officer,” he said. “To me, it shows a great degree of clarity and transparency because we can just go and see who we may be reporting to.”

When the search for the vice president and associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion was announced, President Bell said the University had experienced tremendous growth in students, faculty and staff from various backgrounds, cultures, religions, ethnicities and lifestyles.

“Those differences make our campus richer, and we all benefit,” Bell said. “Our goal in creating this leadership position is to enhance the engagement, support and well-being for everyone on campus.”

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