Salisbury University will be gaining a new member to the campus community on May 6.
Joan Williams will soon begin her position as chief diversity officer and associate vice president of diversity and inclusion. She will also be at the helm of the new Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion.
Williams will be coming from the University of Northern Alabama where she has served as director of diversity and institutional equity for seven years. She commented that she was drawn to this job because she loves doing work related to diversity issues.
“This is my wheelhouse,” Williams said. “I am passionate about the work.”
Not only did her experience draw her to this job, but Williams expressed that she was thoroughly impressed by the university and all its members for their wholehearted commitment to make change on campus.
“I was truly struck by the genuineness and the really authentic commitment to having the campus be an inclusive space," Williams said.
Many students and campus organizations have been waiting for this moment since the multiple racially motivated vandalism incidents that happened earlier this academic year.
Student Government Association Director of Diversity and Inclusion Dorien Rogers is awaiting Williams' arrival to campus.
He was able to meet Williams while sitting on the President’s Task Force as well as the Diversity and Inclusion Consortium during the recruitment process. Rogers felt as though Williams would be a good fit.
“I’m really excited to see her,” Rogers said. “I think she had a lot of unique qualities.”
Rogers expressed how Williams emphasized accountability for everybody during her interview process. He was impressed that she was able to present such a completed plan at the open sessions in early March.
“I think the president made a good choice in picking her,” Rogers said.
Rogers hopes that Williams will be a shared pillar of communication between students, staff and faculty to the university. Working with student organizations on campus will be essential to the success of creating a more inclusive campus.
“I believe to start off, there should be regular meetings with SGA," Rogers said.
Williams explained that one of her first tasks when arriving on campus would be to start learning about the SU community. She was eager to understand the perspectives of those of campus.
“I need to learn the campus,” Williams said. “I have been developing a list of stakeholders that I plan on meeting with.”
SU President Charles Wight has tried to prioritize diversity and inclusion during his time as president at SU. He expressed the importance of increasing and maintaining diversity and inclusion on campus.
During the recruitment process, his hope was to bring someone to campus who could help create a belonging environment for everybody.
“I felt that Joan had done that exceptionally well at her previous position,” Wight said.
Williams explained that she would be committed to those on campus and to creating a welcoming university. She pointed out that she wouldn’t have uprooted her life and moved 900 miles if she didn’t feel SU was committed to those goals.
“I really want to join with others who want to make a difference,” Williams said. “I would not be doing it if the campus didn't have a genuine commitment.”
By ANNIE GEITNER
Images provided by Salisbury University.