University expects to hire diversity VP by month’s end

Kelly Petryszyn

A university search committee has narrowed down a list of 135 candidates to four for the new vice president position to oversee diversity, equity and inclusion.

The final four candidates are Mary Grace A. Almandrez, assistant dean of student multicultural services at University of San Francisco; Alfreda Brown, recently interim chief diversity officer at Rochester Institute of Technology; Sumita Furlong, founder of Institutional Globalization Consultants; and M. Cookie Newsom, the director of diversity education and assessment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We think we have some very efficient and effective potential leaders,” said the Rev. Ronald Fowler, a search committee member and chairman of President Lester Lefton’s Commission on Inclusion.

Each of the final four candidates met in the past few weeks with Lefton, the president’s cabinet, deans of Kent and regional campuses, the University Diversity Advisory Council, the Committee on Administrative Officers and students, faculty and the community at an open meeting.

The final four were selected because the committee “felt they had passion and leadership needed for the position,” said Charlene Reed, search committee chair, secretary to the Board of Trustees and senior assistant to the president.

The committee is in the process of receiving feedback and compiling data to present to Lefton, who has a final say in the decision.

Lefton said the candidates come from relatively inexperienced posts in terms of diversity leadership. The salary will be six figures, but an exact amount is unclear and will depend on who gets the job.

According to an e-Inside article, the new vice president will be responsible for executive leadership and management of the university’s diversity and inclusion programs, including the Office of Diversity, Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, Student Multi-cultural Center, Women’s Resource Center and pre-college programs.

Fowler said the committee is looking for someone who has both administrative and practical experience, is a strategic planner, can see the bigger picture, has a strong academic background, understands an interdisciplinary approach and has a passion for diversity.

Lefton created the position upon recommendation by the Commission on Inclusion, a group that examines diversity at Kent State. In order to increase accountability and follow through on diversity goals, the Commission advised that the job be a cabinet-level position that reports to the president.

Lefton will invite some of the finalists back next week for further discussions. He will make his decision by the end of the month.

Contact diversity reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].