McElroy brings experience to his post

Regina Garcia Cano

James McElroy, who hails from the business world, now leads the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Willis Walker, vice president of human resources and chief university counsel, said Kent State chose McElroy because of his well-rounded background in equal opportunity and affirmative action laws and compliance, and his experience in human resources management.

McElroy said his main goal as the new head of the office is to ensure the university is in compliance with the government laws. As a former employee of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and No Trial Ltd., McElroy said he has more than 13 years of experience in affirmative action compliance.

McElroy said his job at the university will essentially be the same compared to what he did at various corporations.

“The business is different, but my function is the same,” McElroy said. “You have to do the same forms. You have to do the same kind of work for a corporation that you do for a college.”

Even so, McElroy said the atmosphere in academia differs because of its purpose.

“The environment is a little different,” he said. “The corporate America is to make money. This is about making money in the bottom line.

“This is about developing people into leaders and graduates.”

McElroy said he is currently learning the organization and different departments of the university. For McElroy, being a team player is important.

“(I) want to know all the people in my division and get to learn how their jobs relate with mine – how I fit in with the associate vice president of human resources and the director of talent management,” he said.

McElroy said restructuring the office is not on his to-do list.

“There’s not going to be any change in the way we do affirmative action plans, or do the paper work or do the compliance with the government,” McElroy said. “However, I may be changing the way we serve our customers.”

By customers, he said, he is referring to people within the university who make hiring and promotion decisions, and department heads.

Walker said this year the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action has received fewer than ten complaints from staff members and only two from students.

A search committee guided by Talent Management Director Joseph Vitale chose McElroy over four other candidates. The university began searching for a new head of the office after the former director, Willie Boston, died in June.

Contact minority affairs reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].