New Diversity Leaders’ Group to address issues across Northwestern schools

Cat Zakrzewski, Campus Editor

A new group of administrators is working to improve diversity and inclusion for Northwestern students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the University announced Monday.

The Diversity Leaders’ Group is responsible for a consistent administrative strategy for diversity and inclusion across all schools, according to NU officials.

Dona Cordero, assistant provost of diversity and inclusion, suggested forming the group because she thought it would be beneficial for administrators working toward improving diversity to meet regularly. She said there was a particular need for this collaboration because in the past year, the University has created three new appointments to support inclusion efforts. Cordero took on her role last April, Lesley-Ann Brown became the director of campus inclusion and community in September, and Devin Moss was named the full-time director of the LGBT Resource Center in October.

“We thought because we do have more individuals with direct responsibility related to diversity, it would be a good to meet on a regular basis,” Cordero said.

Currently, the group consists of Cordero, Brown and seven other diversity officials from the undergraduate and graduate schools.

Cordero said the group first met during Winter Quarter and has gathered twice since then. She said a major focus of the group will likely be improving diversity-related programming, such as campus speakers.

“We think we can be more strategic in who’s brought to campus, when they are here and making sure that we’re not overlapping in terms of what we’re doing,” Cordero said.

Penny Warren, assistant dean of Student Life and Multicultural Affairs, addresses diversity within The Graduate School. Warren said the collaboration across NU schools’ diversity administrators is important because they are addressing many similar issues.

“As a diverse person in higher education at a research university, whatever level you’re at, you experience some things that have to be in common with others’ experiences,” Warren said.

Warren said she hopes the group will take a more “proactive” approach to diversity issues across campuses.

“You don’t want to wait until something happens that is negative on campus, where the police are there and the media are out with their cameras,” she said.

One of the first decisions the group made at an initial meeting was to alert the University of the work members were doing in their respective offices, which prompted an email University President Morton Schapiro sent to the NU community Monday. In addition to alerting students about the Diversity Leaders’ Group, the email also updated students on the University Diversity Council, which unites faculty, students, staff and alumni in working groups to improve campus inclusion and diversity.