Chief Diversity Officer Strategic Plan Working Group
The Mission objectives of Occidental College should permeate all levels of college life. Attracting gifted and diverse students, faculty, staff, and administrators to our residential college is what we desire, and providing a campus climate where diversity, equity, and excellence thrive at all levels is what we promise. To full-fill this promise requires conscientious, sustained, and skilled efforts. It has become obvious that this enormous responsibility should not be the exclusive burden of a passionate few, but rather, it must be institutionalized and distributed across the entire campus. In the last few years, it has become increasingly common for colleges large and small, to achieve diversity and equity goals similar to our own, by creating the position of a chief diversity officer (CDO) for their campuses. To answer the call of the strategic plan of Occidental College, the CDO Strategic Plan working group was composed to develop a framework for the position of a Chief Diversity Officer. This Final Report contains products of the work of that group that culminated in a proposal to be submitted to the president of the college.
The proposal materials submitted (enclosed) contain three main documents: 1) A job description that would be posted to solicit candidates, 2) A document that identifies a desired “Scope of Work” for the candidate, their office and officers, and 3) A document that describes predicted relationships within the structure of Occidental College. Two other relevant documents were generated and are also enclosed: 1) a relevant budget and 2) an executive summary. It is important to note that the documents that were generated were informed by, and often derived from, the work of multiple committees and task forces that preceded our body. Development also included an initial meeting with President Veitch, followed by meetings with General Counsel- Leora Freedman, Dean of Students- Erica O’Neal Howard, and Shelby Radcliffe from Institutional Advancement. Discussions at meetings included, but were not limited to, review of relevant literature, comparisons to other institutions, and notes from personal interviews of persons that hold, or have held, CDO-type positions.
A unifying characteristic of the three documents developed by the CDO Strategic Plan Working Group is that they demonstrate the breadth of the needs of our college in this area. The job description is written to be sufficiently broad to attract a large pool of candidates with the appropriate skill set and qualifications to achieve many of our goals, but it was constructed with the knowledge that no one candidate will satisfy all of its elements. The Scope of Work and Structural documents too, have a breadth that would not be expected from any one candidate. The search committee would be tasked with finding a candidate that represented the “best fit” over many selection criteria domains. Because no one person can satisfy all of the college’s needs, the Working Group strongly feels that the CDO must represent an office, and have appropriate resources in terms of space and personnel as requisite support. The enclosed budget reflects some of those dimensions.
Occidental College has historically provided leadership in matters related to the realization of institutional diversity and equity. The mission statement reflects the assumption that we desire to be leaders again in this dimension. The enclosed proposal allows the college to assume a new leadership role by constructing an institutional office to be led by a high-level administrator that can take the college in the direction mandated by our Strategic Plan.
The Working Group met over the course of four months in the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters. During this time, the Working Group compiled materials, did work in small groups and used the meetings to discuss findings and make decisions.
Highlights of the Working Group’s process includes:
- A total number of 8 meetings with the entire committee (co-chaired by a faculty member and an administrator)
- Creation of three subcommittees:
- Job Description
- Scope of Work
- Numerous meetings held by subcommittees
- A core document produced by each subcommittee, all of which are in sync with the larger goals of the CDO Working Group
- Meetings with the following administrators:
- Jonathan Veitch – President
- Leora Freedman – General Counsel
- Erica O’Neil Howard – Senior Associate Dean, Student Affairs
- Shelby Radcliffe – VP for Institutional Advancement
- Review of various documents:
- Job descriptions from other colleges and universities including peer institutions
- College Diverse Learning Environments Survey results
- Articles relating to CDOs
- Interviews with members of National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE)
- CODE documents
- College diversity task force and working group document
- Interviews with members of Liberal Arts Diversity Officers (LADO) organization
Search Committee Recommendations
As the College considers the composition of the search committee, we would ask that the following things are considered.
- We suggest that at least two members of the CDO Task Force form part of the search committee, ideally the co-chairs, Ella Turenne and Kerry Thompson
- Given that this is a leadership position, we suggest that the committee be as expansive as possible while maintaining a size that is manageable, as we want to have someone in place by summer/start of the fall semester.
- Committee membership:
- 2 members of CDO committee (preferably co-chairs)
- One member of the Leadership Team
- 1-2 additional faculty, with an eye to covering the academic divisions as much as possible (for example, if Kerry is on the committee, the other faculty should not be scientists)
- Another administrator (possibly Legal Counsel)
- 2-3 students–we recognize student schedules often make this very challenging to accommodate, but we should try. We suggest a balance of students who have been involved in leadership positions such as ICC, CODE, Student Govt., Cultural Clubs, Center for Gender Equity, First Generation, etc.
NOTE: We know there are people the candidates should meet with who will, likely, not be on the search committee (e.g. Ruth Jones, Student Affairs leadership/ICC, etc.)
February 23: Job Posted, Committee Named
April 1: First Round Resume Cut
April 6-10: Phone Interviews to cut to 3 candidates April 20-May 1: On campus interviews
May 15: CDO offer made
On/Before August 15: CDO starts
The Working Group believes that it has put together a comprehensive and strong proposal for consideration to the president of the college. At the beginning of the process, the Working Group was tasked with:
With the goal of creating an innovative and sustainable organizational approach that is effective in advancing the mission of the College and our strategic priorities, the CDO strategic plan working group will:
- create a job description for a CDO and outline the responsibilities of such a position
- develop a budget framework, including development of a timeline for a search and for implementation of any other recommendations
- identify programmatic and organizational options
The Working Group has completed each of these items with an eye towards the strategic objective of Inclusive Excellence as outlined in the college’s strategic plan:
Advance a commitment of inclusive excellence that will continue to attract and develop accomplished students, faculty and staff who evidence diversity in thought, socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity and nationality.
As we move forward, we hope that this work will propel the college to a place where it is once again at the national forefront of strategic thinking and action on higher education and diversity.