As the 2022-23 school year commences here at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, so does the search for our new Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. With the former Vice President Khuram Hussain stepping down at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, the Colleges are more than eager to begin the search for the next VP with such a vital role in our campus community.
Over the summer a search committee was formed of students, elected faculty and staff, and co-chaired by Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students Becca Barile and Provost and Dean of Faculty Sarah R. Kirk. This committee will be working along with a search firm to find the individual most fit for this position. The committee focused on establishing a set of characteristics and qualifications they felt were the most important that this person should have, with the input of the student body through surveys, and student, faculty, and staff listening sessions to create a set of prerequisites for the position. Some of those prerequisites include someone who has an interest in the Colleges students, staff, and culture and wants to build upon the strong foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion the school has worked hard to create.
The search committee is looking at a wide range of candidates from many different types of backgrounds that would benefit them in this role, this person will be educated in current research on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs across the nation and will be able to help our campus stay educated and grow into a place where everybody feels comfortable being their whole unapologetic selves. As of right now the search firm has taken these qualities and contacted over 800 candidates who may be interested in the position, they will conduct informal interviews with those interested to narrow down that pool after the applicants have been vetted for the desired qualifications. Hopefully, by November we will begin to see prospective candidates on campus visiting and getting to know our community as we get to know them.
Once hired, the search committee predicts that this person’s presence on campus will be felt almost immediately. This person will be building authentic relationships with everybody on campus by meeting faculty, attending minority studies classes, going to club meetings, or just hanging out at the library with students.
“I think we are all looking for someone that has energy, that wants to come on day one and understand this place and spend time getting to know students and getting to know areas of strength and opportunity,” Dean Barile says. This person won’t be a passive advocate, but an active and trustworthy member of our community who will help improve it by being a leader of change, hosting workshops for staff, and implementing policies that will allow us to feel safe and seen here at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
The position is expected to be filled by the spring semester of 2023, right about the same time the Intercultural Affairs center is predicted to be done with expansion construction, this will provide ample opportunity for this person to hit the ground running once they arrive on campus.
“A fresh lens whether they are being new to the position or new to this campus, and getting their unfiltered feedback on campus life as a division and as an atmospheric culture can improve,” Dean Barile replied when asked what she was most excited about the promise of a new VP on the way. The school has had a strategic diversity plan in place for some time now and this new VP will now have the opportunity to improve upon the plan and ensure our goals as a community is met.
In an ever-changing world, we all know there will always be room for improvement when it comes to ensuring everybody feels included in our campus culture. No matter our differences. Once this new Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is hired, we will have a ‘guiding light’ for the destination we want to reach as a campus community in regards to equitable practices, putting equal amounts of energy into educational initiatives, and providing the most well rounded and intellectual education to the students of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. New Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion we cannot wait to meet you!