I would like to take this opportunity to publicly express my gratefulness to those who have been and continue to be supportive of me and my office since arriving in August 2005. The past four years have been remarkable in advancing diversity and inclusion at St. Thomas. I remain optimistic that this enthusiasm and commitment will persist in my absence.

During the past semester, I have given intentional contemplation about how the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID) will carry on without an appointed interim. Higher education, as we know it, will not be the same space – resources are limited, competition is more fierce, and organizations are forced to do business differently in these uncertain times. In short, I decided to use this as an opportunity to encourage leadership from within the ranks. Fortunately for us, I was able to identify talented individuals with whom I have established a rapport, respect and trust to continue what we have created together as a community.

Through the years   several people have been exceptionally participatory in helping shape efforts to embrace diversity as a pillar of excellence, synergize actions at all levels of the institution, and cultivate inclusiveness and mutual respect throughout the community. Many have demonstrated service to OID by way of the University Diversity Advisory Council, various diversity work-groups, committees, task forces and special teams. More importantly,  more than a few are simply committed to and passionate about our St. Thomas community being a place where all people can be affirmed, respected and valued.

While my responsibilities span a number of areas in the university, there are select duties that have been reassigned to colleagues who understand the principal meaning and desired outcomes. I have met or will meet with each individual prior to my departure on Aug. 12. I was mindful as well to consult or meet with each person’s direct supervisor to discuss and gain their support. As a result, a small number of peers with whom I work very closely have volunteered their talents and time too.

Beginning Aug. 17 the following people may be contacted regarding specific responsibilities, programs, and/or initiatives aligned with OID:

Responsibility/Program/Initiative Contact Person
University Diversity Advisory Council Denise Dieffenbach
CommUNITY Week/CommUNITY Series Cynthia Fraction and Michael Glirbas
McNair Scholars Program Cynthia Fraction
President’s Ad Hoc Group on African American Issues Edna Comedy
Diversity Action Plan Susan Alexander
Black History Month Heritage Gala Cynthia Fraction
Diversity Leadership Awards Denise Dieffenbach
LOFTUS Diversity Mini-Grant Competition Shannon Hendricks or Susan Alexander
Diversity Offerings/Leadership Academy Susan DeVries or Edna Comedy
General questions or comments Diversity@stthomas.edu

Please join me in showing appreciation to these capable employees for agreeing to take on more work in the coming academic year. I applaud and respect each of them. For some, this is a chance to learn, grow, and be challenged in different ways.

Finally, after an extensive interviewing and placement process, I have chose DePaul University from a list of highly competitive universities as the host institution for my ACE Fellowship year.

Thank you to all university administrators who took time to interview with me in July. Your insight and candor have been useful as I finalize my fellowship year project – albeit a complex and challenging proposal.