New leadership will soon be brought to the flock at Salisbury University. With the Office of Diversity and Inclusion now its own independent body under the president, the university is searching for its first full-time chief diversity officer to lead the office and SU’s renewed commitment to an all-inclusive campus experience.
The CDO will also hold the title of associate vice president for diversity and inclusion and be a member of the President’s Cabinet, reporting directly to SU President Charles Wight.
Wight’s original intention when he first arrived at SU in 2018 was to create a CDO position and to separate the Office of Diversity and Inclusion after the upcoming strategic plan was finalized. However, following the racist vandalism incidents of the fall semester, the administration deemed it was necessary to act immediately and expedite the search and move of the office.
The CDO search is currently underway and is being conducted by the university’s HR process.
Given the gravity of the hire, the search for a chief diversity officer has taken on many unique aspects, such as including students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members all on the search committee, which is only typical of presidential hires.
Eli Modlin, SU’s chief of staff and director of Government and Community Relations, is currently leading the efforts and staff of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion until the CDO position is filled.
When asked how long he believes the position will remain open, Modlin said, “The president is hopeful that a successful candidate will emerge this semester.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Dane Foust believes that this new position will help establish better institutional values across campus.
“We’ve created a new position, the chief diversity officer, who will oversee a lot of the activities, but the person that’s in that position has to be able to reach across all areas of the university,” Foust said. “So that whoever’s in that position has the responsibility for helping guide and direct how we look at our campus and how we position our campus as a welcoming, caring kind of community.”
The search committee has been working tirelessly to find a perfect fit for the position, and that has resulted in four qualified candidates.
Four CDO and AVP for diversity and inclusion candidates have been asked to come on campus and interact with the president, the student body and faculty.
While on campus, each candidate will have the opportunity to address the student body and faculty during an open session. There was the first open session with Joshua Segui on March 2. The rest will take place within the upcoming week. Each session will be at 3 p.m. in Conway Hall.
During each session, the candidate will be asked about how they intend to approach the racist and sexist acts performed on campus and what strategies they plan to employ to better the campus climate here at SU. After the prompted question, there will be time for follow-up questions from the audience.
The sessions will be as following:
March 2: Joshua Segui
March 4: Rhonda Brown
March 9: Joan Williams
March 11: Christopher Hunt
The search committee encourages all students to try to attend one or more of these events, as one of the above candidates could potentially become a permanent fixture here at SU.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image: Salisbury University Photos.