By Mira Lerner|| Copy Editor
On Tuesday night, a town hall was held in the Alice Drum Women’s Center to discuss the search for F&M’s first Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion (CODI) with President Altmann. Also serving on the panel were Carrie Rampp, F&M’s Chief Information Officer and chair of the search committee; Dr. Felicia Brown-Haywood, Chief Diversity Officer at Millersville University; and TaLisa Ramos, Assistant Director of Student Engagement at Penn State Harrisburg.
After introductions, President Atlmann briefly spoke about what she envisions the role of CODI to be and how F&M is approaching the hiring process. The school has hired Greenwood, a search firm, because they have access to a large pool of candidates, President Altmann said. She also mentioned that Greenwood is women-owned, has a good reputation for placing women of color, and the senior officer is a woman of color. The search will most likely take some time, but they are hoping for the position to be filled over the summer.
The search committee serves to advise President Altmann. The committee will establish an evaluation rubric, modify the job description, figure out how to assess candidates, conduct off-site interviews, bring finalists to campus, and interview finalists in conjunction with broad representation from students and school employees. Finally, the committee will make recommendations to President Altmann. Ms. Rampp was able to elaborate more on the specific details and responsibilities. She said that many people meet candidates and have the opportunity to provide feedback, emphasizing that the committee representatives are not the only people involved in the selection process.
President Altmann recognized that some view the search for a CODI as an effort to absolve the school of blame, which she denied. She also assured that she does not believe one person will fix all of F&M’s problems, there must be a structure in place. The school is preparing to support the incoming CODI by providing them with staff, the results of the campus climate survey, and the bias incident reporting system. Additionally, the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMCA) will turn into an office for intercultural affairs and multicultural spaces around campus are being refurbished.
President Altmann likened the CODI to a personal trainer; we are all responsible for diversity and inclusion efforts, we just need some help developing the muscles. This person will have the experience and academic degree necessary to be a bridge-builder at F&M. In terms of a title, she has been looking at other schools for reference and is currently thinking of using “Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion.”
The rest of the meeting consisted of Dr. Brown-Haywood and Ms. Ramos recounting their experiences leading diversity and inclusion initiatives over the many years that they have been engaged in such work. At times they asked questions, such as what do students want in a CODI and if there was one thing students could share with the CODI, a burning desire, what would it be? Some responses included the importance of addressing faculty and staff needs, understanding that diversity comes in many different forms, and the need to address diversity and inclusion in academics, not just campus life.
When recounting her interview at Millersville University, Dr. Brown-Haywood mentioned that the responsibility for diversity and inclusion cannot fall solely on one person. Every part of the college must be committed to achieving these goals. She also said that the CODI must have leverage, which is why it is important that they will be reporting to President Altmann. Dr. Brown-Haywood repeatedly praised President Altmann for her commitment to diversity and inclusion at F&M and commented on the progress the school has made already. She seemed impressed that F&M was actively searching for a CODI and said that we are on a great path. However, Dr. Brown-Haywood and Ms. Ramos both adamantly reminded the room that a CODI looks different on every campus and F&M needs to find what works for our specific community.
Senior Mira Lerner is a Copy Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org