The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity named Erin DeBobes as its new assistant vice president in early September, according an announcement on Today@Brown. In his new role, DeBobes is responsible for thinking “holistically about policies and procedures related to discrimination and harassment broadly, and how those policies work in conjunction with existing policies in other campus units,” wrote Shontay Delalue, vice president for institutional equity and diversity, in an email to The Herald.
The role also involves “streamlining harassment and discrimination policies,” assisting with the “evaluation of campus climate surveys, (coordinating) the preparation of the University’s affirmation action plans,” hearing appeals related to discrimination against people with disabilities and providing “day to day leadership for the compliance aspects of OIED work,” according to the Today@Brown announcement.
“I will not only make sure the University is legally compliant but (also) … set a higher bar of equity and access,” DeBobes said.
Before coming to the University, DeBobes worked at Bridgewater State University and Massachusetts Maritime Academy. In his previous positions, he gained experience handling “legal and compliance aspects of civil rights, discrimination and harassment” in higher education settings. His work also included dealing with sexual and relationship violence, campus climate issues and “recruiting and hiring with a focus on equity and diversity.”
DeBobes believes his background and skill set are closely aligned with the University’s initiatives, and he was drawn to the position because of the University’s dedication to social justice and the intellectual rigor of students and employees.“All of that was very attractive to me in thinking about a place to work,” DeBobes said. “There’s a focus on excellence in really all aspects of the University.”
A search committee chaired by Assistant Vice President for Academic Diversity Marlina Duncan oversaw the selection process for the position, according to Delalue.
Right now, DeBobes is still learning how the different offices of the University operate. In the future, DeBobes will review the current policies of OIED and provide recommendations so that “equity is deeply embedded into the structure on campus.” He hopes to work in collaboration with Delalue in managing human resources to follow affirmative action guidelines and applying global diversity to the hiring process. DeBobes also aims to reduce unconscious bias in the University’s hiring process and focus on “hiring the best talent and the most diverse talent.” He also plans to monitor and prevent discrimination and harassment of students, faculty and staff.
More generally, DeBobes wants to see the “identities and backgrounds and experiences (of the Brown community) have equal space, equal voice, equal access to the benefits of the University and (contribute) to the collective intellect of the University.”