Search committee holds forum for new diversity and inclusion provost


Ebony Calloway/Daily Senior Staffer

Members of the search committee for the Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion address concerns and questions regarding the search. They discussed attributes the Northwestern community is looking for in a candidate.

Jee Young Lee, Reporter

Students and administrators voiced concerns about Northwestern’s diversity efforts Tuesday at a forum held by the search committee for the University’s new associate provost for diversity and inclusion.

The search committee, comprising representatives from the administration, faculty, staff and the student body, was formed in December 2014 to begin looking for the successor to former Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Dona Cordero, who left the University in October for a position at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The committee will interview candidates in May and hopes to have chosen a new provost by the end of the academic year, Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, associate provost for faculty, told The Daily.

The search committee decided to upgrade the position from an assistant spot to associate provost to make the position more powerful, Chase-Lansdale told The Daily after the forum. She said other Big Ten universities are creating similar positions to consolidate the power and responsibilities of administrator positions dedicated to diversity and inclusion.

About 25 staff, faculty and students attended the forum.

“During the search of candidates, we are educating ourselves with what the concerns of the community are, so that when we are talking to the candidates we can be candid about them,” said Dwight McBride, co-chair of the search committee and the Associate Provost for Graduate Education.

McBride said the search committee held two open fora Tuesday on the Chicago and Evanston campuses, as well as two committee meetings during the quarter. His update on the committee’s progress was followed by the introduction of each member on the search committee.

“It’s always hard to get a full grasp on everything that’s being done,” Affirmative Action Coordinator Tina Curry said to the committee. There is not one centralized place you can go to find out all the efforts that are being done, whether it’s in Kellogg or any other unit.”

Curry voiced her concern regarding this decentralization and addressed the difficulties she encounters when working with affirmative action programs. She asked whether the responsibility of the provost position would involve consolidating the efforts to increase diversity in each unit of the University.

McBride said he does not anticipate the diversity officers reporting to the associate provost, but hopes the individual would continue the efforts of Cordero to meet with groups concerned with issues of diversity.

“We are working in a variety of ways to build more transparency, clarity and infrastructure of information, and the ability to access it as well as accountability,” Chase-Lansdale said.

The discussion then focused on the challenges facing the integration of minority students, including first-generation and low-income students.

“It is uncomfortable being a low-income student here,” said Allison Manley (Weinberg ’12), who currently works at the Kellogg School of Management. “They think that low-income situations are something that they experience outside of Northwestern, but that actually is a concern here.”

Manley said if the associate provost is from a place with a different perspective than NU, they will be able to more clearly understand concerns regarding low-income and other minority statuses.

“The faculty demographics are not matching the student demographics,” McCormick sophomore Wendy Roldan said. “Sometimes I feel discouraged after reaching out to faculty administrators who are in a position to help first-generation and low-income students because they don’t understand us.”

Roldan said the provost should initiate trainings for faculty to facilitate conversations that occur during interaction among faculty, administrators and students.

“We will be reviewing candidates on paper in April and interviewing them in May,” Chase-Lansdale told The Daily. “We hope to have someone identified by the end of the academic year.”

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