Last spring, amid a flurry of emerging vacancies at the colleges, it was announced that Interim Chief Diversity Officer Solomé Rose would be leaving the position she had held since March of 2016 to join Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York. Her exit prompted a series of emails from more than a dozen faculty members congratulating Rose for the changes she implemented during her short tenure as Interim Chief Diversity Officer and bemoaning that the Colleges was losing her talents. During her time at the colleges Rose reportedly helped to create the very position of Chief Diversity Officer, established the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and laid out the first Strategic Diversity Plan issued by the Colleges.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has become a fixture of campus life, promoting diversity on faculty hiring committees, conducting diversity training and workshops on implicit biases, encouraging underrepresented students to enter STEM fields and to attend graduate school, and working with other offices on campus to address bias-related incidents. In the time since the vacancy emerged, Presidential Fellow Sydney Gomez ‘17, who is assisting the search committee, wrote that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion “has been working behind the scenes to explore initiatives from the Strategic Diversity Plan, assess programming currently on hold, and create feedback for the new CDO [Chief Diversity Officer].”
The kind of qualities that the search committee is looking for, according to Gomez, include the ability to “build relationships across campus to insure that diversity and inclusion is an institutional priority. The CDO is tasked with working with faculty, students, and staff, but the work of diversity and inclusion has to been done by all members of HWS community.” When asked how the search was going so far, Gomez replied, “The search is going. We have great candidates, some are current Chief Diversity Officers, with diverse backgrounds, expertise in diversity and inclusion, and experience working with faculty, staff and students.”
In November, while speaking before a joint meeting of Hobart Student Government and William Smith Congress, President Pat McGuire indicated his regret that the search had been slow to produce a Chief Diversity Officer and assured the quorum that the search was a priority for him. McGuire attributed the delay to disagreements with some members of the search committee over whether or not to recruit a Chief Diversity Officer from outside the Colleges. McGuire and others within the administration favored looking for recruits from outside the institution while many within the search committee favored selecting from internal candidates. President McGuire confirmed that there were currently forty-six applicants, several of whom they plan to bring to campus next semester.
A student serving on the search committee informed the Herald that they will narrow the number of candidates to ten or twelve and conduct phone interviews over winter break. The student indicated that a hiring decision for the next Chief Diversity Officer may come as soon as late January or early February if the administration meets its current timetable.