Vernese Edghill-Walden named first-ever NIU chief diversity officer

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Vernese Edghill-Walden

Northern Illinois University announced the selection of Vernese Edghill-Walden, current City Colleges of Chicago provost and chief academic officer, as the senior associate vice president for academic diversity and chief diversity officer. Edghill-Walden is the first to hold this position, which reports to both the president and the executive vice president and provost and is a member of both the President’s Cabinet and the Council of Deans. The appointment is scheduled to begin Aug. 1, 2015.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Edghill-Walden to NIU. She has a wealth of higher education experience and is a nationally-known leader in diversity education and research in race and gender,” NIU President Doug Baker said. “Vernese has demonstrated leadership in advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout her career. Her demonstrated abilities to collaborate across campus units and to form community partnerships will be an asset to NIU.”

In her new role at NIU, Edghill-Walden will be expected to provide vision, leadership, and counsel on matters of diversity and inclusion, and to collaborate with all campus units and with the surrounding community to create a welcoming and respectful environment that values diversity as a dimension of excellence.

“We are delighted to have Vernese join the NIU leadership team. Her broad experience as a diversity professional and an academic administrator—and her familiarity with Chicagoland—provide a strong foundation for her success,” said NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman.

“NIU has really great diversity programming now, and for me it is a great place to take the diversity effort to the next level. I am really impressed with the level of support and resources for diversity and inclusion that NIU has,” Edghill-Walden said. “I think my many years of multicultural programming and diversity work will be a tremendous asset for me as I take on this exciting new role.”

Before serving as provost and chief academic officer at City Colleges of Chicago, Edghill-Walden served in that same capacity on an interim basis from May through August, 2013. She served as associate vice chancellor for general education and academic affairs for the system in 2012 and 2013. She began her service at the City Colleges of Chicago district office in 2010 as executive director of academic development.

Edghill-Walden_VerneseEdghill-Walden came to Chicago in 2007 as associate director of research and evaluation at Richard J. Daley College, one of the City Colleges. She began her academic career as minority student adviser at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. before becoming director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Black Culture in 1988, where she served for 12 years. Edghill-Walden spent three years as director of diversity at Georgetown Day School before pursuing an advanced degree in sociology at Howard University, where she earned her Ph.D. in 2007.

Edghill-Walden earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bucknell University in 1987 and a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Delaware in 1992.

“This position is absolutely important because it really does send a message to the campus community that there is a commitment to inclusion. It allows for a really great partnership with the president and provost and really helps set the tone for students, faculty and staff at NIU as well as those interested in coming to NIU to pursue their studies or further their careers,” Edghill-Walden said.

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