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Brown University Seeks to Create Position to Oversee Diversity

Brown University Seeks to Create Position to Oversee Diversity


Brown University is seeking to create a senior-level position to promote diversity on campus and help the Ivy League school identify and hire more minority faculty.

The planned director of diversity would be charged with developing policies that help ensure diversity in programs at Brown. The administration is still figuring out a specific job description, but the idea is finding a vocal proponent who can enunciate the concept and spread it to students, faculty and other branches of the school.

“It’s a position that ensures the spirit of diversity … is available broadly, and someone is thinking about diversity, and the role it might play in the university’s programs and what goes on on campus,” says Brown spokesman Mark Nickel.

The proposal is expected to be considered in early November by the Committee on Minority Affairs of the Corporation of Brown University, the university’s governing body. A search could begin as soon as this spring.

President Ruth Simmons is leading the push for the post. Simmons, beginning her second year at the school, established similar positions at Smith College and Princeton University. The director would report to Simmons or to the provost.

Simmons told the Brown Daily Herald she hopes to find a director who can assist with faculty searches. Brown in February announced a drive to hire 100 faculty members over the next five to eight years, with the aim of recruiting scholars as they become available.

The position, if approved, could evolve into an office with staff, much like offices dealing with affirmative action and equal employment opportunities at the school, Nickel said.

There are 89 professors at Brown who have identified themselves as minorities on the school’s 575-person faculty, or about 15 percent. That’s up from about 12 percent five years ago. Non-Whites made up one-third of Brown’s 5,700-student body for the 2000-2001 school year, the most recent figure available.

“This position will oversee the umbrella organization for all our diversity programs,” says Laura Freid, executive vice president of public affairs and university relations. “It’s sort of a global perspective … providing the intellectual support of some of our programs.”

Simmons was named president of Brown in 2000. She is the first African American to head an Ivy League school.

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