The University has extended an offer to a candidate for the permanent position of director of the Office of Institutional Diversity, said Provost Mark Schlissel P'15. The director bears the responsibility of ensuring that Brown continues to promote diversity on campus through faculty, students and staff, he said.
Professor of Anthropology Lina Fruzzetti became the interim director last fall following the departure of director Valerie Wilson, and a search committee was appointed to find a permanent director. The committee was chaired by Lundy Braun, professor of medical science, and included faculty, undergraduates and graduate students.
Schlissel originally told The Herald last fall that he hoped the position would be filled by January, but the process - organizing a committee, interviewing candidates and deliberating - took time, he said.
"We needed to make sure we had a strong pool of candidates," said Mary Grace Almandrez, director of the Third World Center and a member of the search committee. "There has been a lot of transition in general with senior leadership (at the University). We wanted to make sure we were thoughtful, gaining broad endorsement for candidates."
The committee received almost 70 applications for the position, which was advertised broadly through the University's networks, wrote Deputy Provost Joseph Meisel in an email to The Herald. The committee made recommendations to Schlissel and President Ruth Simmons last month, bringing its formal duties to an end, Almandrez said.
The top candidates were brought to campus and interviewed by senior leadership, including Schlissel, who is currently at the stage of extending an offer. "I've made a selection of the best qualified person, and I'm in the process of convincing them to join us," Schlissel said.
The committee looked for candidates with experience in promoting a diverse university environment, he said, adding that they sought candidates who had university experience and expertise in writing grant proposals to help attract resources for various projects.
"We wanted to make sure candidates had experience recruiting and retaining faculty of color, as this is a high priority for the University," Almandrez said. "We wanted someone who could build bridges across campus and departments and could help diversify our faculty in different ways." Having someone who understood Brown's culture and who related well to faculty, students and staff were also important considerations for the search committee.
The new director will face many challenges upon entering office.
"We have not done an adequate job making sure Brown's faculty is as diverse as our society. We need to promote a learning environment where students can learn from many different points of view," said Schlissel, who believes the biggest challenge for the new officer will be working with the administration to recruit diverse faculty. Almandrez said diversifying faculty is a national challenge.
"From the standpoint of the (Diversity Advisory Board), I expect the new (director) to provide leadership for long-range planning and an increase in (the board's) involvement in University affairs relating to diversity," said Anita Zimmerman, professor of medical science and vice chair of the advisory board. "The (board) gradually has been taking a more active role, and this growth is expected to continue with leadership of the new OID director." She said integrating different University efforts that focus on various aspects of diversity into a more cohesive approach will be one of the major challenges for the new director.
Almandrez said she will support the new officer fully in her capacity as director of the Third World Center, recognizing the work at hand is important and challenging. "There is some excitement in seeing someone step in full time," she said.
President Ruth Simmons established the Office of Institutional Diversity in 2003 to create initiatives that enhance campus diversity. Some of the office's most recent publications include a report on plans to increase women and minority presence through hiring decisions and a plan for extending outreach to disabled individuals and veterans, according to the office's website.