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K-State Today

June 29, 2017

Update on strengthening diversity and inclusion at K-State

Submitted by President Richard Myers and Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason

We hope everyone is having an enjoyable summer.

In a letter last month, feedback was encouraged regarding a proposed plan to strengthen our diversity team at K-State. As a follow up, we want to summarize some of the key points heard and share next steps as we continue moving forward together.

First, it is clear there is much support for K-State to more proactively address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, and promote a university culture where individuals from all racial and ethnic identities, ages, nationalities, social and economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, religious, political and ideological perspectives, and physical and mental abilities are able to thrive and be engaged.

We also heard there is not one ideal structure. Everyone who commented views it with a unique lens and through their own perspective of engagement with diversity at K-State. 

It's clear there is not a shared understanding of the current distribution of diversity and inclusion responsibilities among K-State units, particularly as it relates to the Office of Diversity and Human Capital Services. Any new structure needs to clarify roles and how our units work together to support greater, collective impact.

We heard there needs to be a Chief Diversity Officer who speaks broadly to diversity and can act as a bridge to address a wide variety of diversity, inclusion and climate issues across the institution. Much of the feedback preferred the position not be located in Human Capital Services, though the Vice President for Human Capital Services and his team should have strengthened accountability for advancing recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and staff, while collaborating with a Chief Diversity Officer.

There also was strong sentiment that the Chief Diversity Officer should serve on the President's Cabinet, and most commenters thought the position should report directly to the President. 

We are most appreciative of everyone who took time to provide feedback as we all move forward together strengthening diversity and inclusion at the university. After careful consideration of all comments, questions and suggestions, we are now beginning the process to hire two positions: a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, or CDIO; and an Associate Vice President for Student Life/Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs.   

The CDIO will report directly to the President and serve on the President's Cabinet. This position is the senior executive empowered by the President to act on his behalf reporting issues and advancing diversity and inclusion efforts across the university.

The CDIO also is the senior advisor to university leadership and will be accountable for working across the academy, but with a particular emphasis regarding Human Capital Services on faculty and staff recruitment, retention and institutional equity; the Provost and academic organization on faculty development and curriculum; and the Vice President for Student Life and Associate Vice President for Student Life on student recruitment, retention and success.

The Associate Vice President for Student Life will provide a senior diversity leader in Student Life charged with advancing multicultural student affairs while also serving as the senior diversity and inclusion advisor to the Vice President for Student Life. Student programs and services in the current Office of Diversity will transition to the new Office of Multicultural Student Affairs in Student Life.

Both positions will serve in critical leadership roles promoting a university culture where all individuals are able to thrive and be engaged. Together with Pat Bosco, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, we will soon begin forming search committees for the two positions. To ensure student representation, the search committees will begin their work as we start the fall semester. The new organizational structure and DRAFT position descriptions, as well as Frequently Asked Questions, can be viewed on the President's website.

As we move forward together, it's important we all continue to listen, consider and strive to better understand each other. Leadership is essential, but alone is insufficient if we are going to enhance the welcoming and inclusive K-State environment. Building the community we all envision is a collective, shared responsibility. The creation of this leadership structure is a call to all members of the university community to join in this effort.

Richard B. Myers          April Mason
President                     Provost and Senior Vice President