Cultural centers to report to Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Vernese Edghill-Walden
Vernese Edghill-Walden

As part of efforts to create a campus climate that better supports and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion, the university’s cultural resource centers, as well as the Office of Diversity and Equity will begin reporting to the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within the Division of Academic Affairs.

The changes were made in response to recommendations that emerged from both the Program Prioritization Administrative Task Force and the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Both groups recognized that such an alignment would allow for better use of resources as the university strives to realize its vision for a more diverse and inclusive learning and working environment.

“The new structure will bring even greater strategy and cohesion to the operation of these important entities,” said NIU Chief Diversity Officer Vernese Edghill-Walden who will oversee the centers. “This will allow these units to work in a more integrated fashion toward a single vision for diversity, equity and inclusion at NIU. It will help eliminate silos and encourage intentional strategies that can advance that work across all levels and experiences.”

The changes, which will officially be implemented Jan. 1, 2017, will affect the Asian American Center, Latino Resource Center, and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. Currently, those centers, as well as the Office of Diversity and Equity, are housed within the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

The new alignment fits well with the efforts being made by the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to implement its comprehensive plan. To date, that work has included the creation of the on-going Diversity Dialogues series, the development of the Human Diversity requirement and a number of other academic equity initiatives.

As the realignment takes place, one of the key players in making it happen will be leaving. Katrina Caldwell, who currently serves as assistant vice president for Diversity and Equity, will be assuming the position of vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement, and chief diversity officer, at the University of Mississippi, starting in January.

“Katrina’s passion, expertise and student-centered insights on issues of equity and inclusion have helped shape this new organizational structure to move NIU forward,” said Edghill-Walden. “While we are deeply saddened to see her go, she has earned this new position and our full support, and we wish her well.”

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