Before the search begins for a new vice president for diversity and inclusion, the size and the roles of the offices that position oversees are being evaluated.
Over the past four years, the number of employees in the offices within the Ohio University Office for Diversity and Inclusion has decreased due to cuts.
A report about the Office for Diversity and Inclusion is being compiled about the four offices: the LGBT Center, Multicultural Programs and the Multicultural Center, Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention and the Women’s Center.
Funding cuts have changed how the offices operate, as they are still in charge of being a part of the entire university, Athens area and regional campuses. Last May, the program coordinator at OU’s Women’s Center left her position, leaving Director M. Geneva Murray as the only professional employee in the center.
“It was an opportunity cut in the fact that it was vacant. I’m glad if that kept someone in their job, absolutely, but from the Women’s Center director position, though, that’s not thinking about the bigger picture,” Murray said. “The Women’s Center wants to help where we can, while also being cognizant of that we are charged with being in the entire university, the community and the regional campuses, and I’m the only professional staff. So how do we do that? The reality of it is we can’t.”
At the October’s Board of Trustees meeting, Nellis said the university needs to be proactive in terms of recruitment and how faculty and staff are supported once they’re at OU. He also mentioned the importance of job descriptions and “thinking holistically” about how the offices can enrich OU.
“I think one of the things (the administration is) doing now is beginning a process of advertising and going out and recruiting a new vice president is doing some thinking about how they want to structure ... that office, if they do need to provide additional resources,” Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said.
Student Senate and the administration are conducting evaluations of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion.
The offices hold programs, events and projects, but representatives from the offices also visit classes, do presentations and conduct employee training.
“We have our roles and responsibilities, but then we also get tapped to do some other things too and it would be good … if we had more people on board, more positions or even just people to fill the positions,” Special Assistant to the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Tyrone Carr said.
Two of the four offices have one professional employee. Both of those employees have been at OU for about three years, Carr said.
There is a full-time equivalent staff of 5.75 people for about 1,500 students in the Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention. That office works to attract and retain students of diverse backgrounds.
The offices are doing more with less staff, Carr said. The Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention has the most staff members, but that office also has fewer employees compared to three or four years ago.
“I do think this is an opportunity to really demonstrate that we want to be setting best practices and that has to not just include staffing, but it also has to include programming money as well,” Murray said.
The vice president of diversity is one of the searches at OU this academic year. At Nellis’ inauguration, he moved the Office for Diversity and Inclusion from under the vice provost to under the vice president. At the October board meeting, Vice President for Student Affairs and interim Chief Diversity Officer Jason Pina gave a presentation about the office’s work.
“I am identifying best practices, studying our campus landscape and assessing standard practices among our (Inter-University Council) colleagues to help determine the most appropriate configuration for our resources in the future,” Pina said in an email.
Correction: A previous version of this report misstated the status of the report and misidentified the department described by Jason Pina. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.