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Diversity Officers Group to Launch State Chapters

The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE), rapidly emerging as a premier organization of diversity officers in public and private colleges and state systems of higher education, will expand its activities later this year to include state chapters, the organization’s leaders decided in Phoenix at their annual meeting earlier this month.

Giving the young group of seasoned diversity professionals more organized reach in individual states will help NADOHE “collectively advance” the work individuals and smaller groups have already done, says NADOHE President Glen Jones, senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at Arkansas State University.

Dr. Jones says having state chapters will also enhance the networking abilities of various local groups around the country as individual and isolated groups find colleagues they can share information with and “collectively advance the work that’s out there” on such efforts as globalization, scholarship policies and new recruitment and retention strategies.

NADOHE has some 150 institutional and 90 individual members working at public and private colleges and in statewide higher education systems. Its expansion move comes at a time when the nation’s weakened economy and a moderating political climate appear to have cooled diversity programs and advocacy in recent years and forced many groups to retrench.

Harnessing NADOHE’s various human resources into a more coordinated network has been discussed among many diversity professionals in higher education for several years. The fine print of how the state chapter process will work will be ironed out over the new few months, says Jones.

Meanwhile, the notion of NADOHE extending its reach is winning praise.

“I’m really encouraged by the state chapters,” idea, says Dr. Wendy Thompson, vice chancellor for access and diversity at the Tennessee Board of Regents, the governance and policy board for the state’s public colleges and universities, except the University of Tennessee. Thompson, who said she joined NADOHE’s board to help promote the participation in the group of state systems and community colleges, says the state chapter concept should help encourage more involvement by those kinds of institutions.

Hazel Rountree, founder of the Ohio Diversity Officers Collaboration (ODOC), characterizes NADOHE’s move toward establishing state level chapters as a “great idea.” ODOC is one of the nation’s first and largest state-level professional development groups focusing solely on diversity officers.

“There’s a growing need for professional development of those involved in diversity work and multicultural education,” says Rountree, assistant director for affirmative action at Wright State University in Ohio. “This is an efficient way to do it.”

“Chapters can provide training more frequently and in a cost efficient manner,” than attending a single national meeting, says Rountree. Her group holds quarterly training sessions around the state for diversity professionals on a wide range of topics.

“I think we have to learn to share information and be mindful of our dollars,” says Rountree, citing shrinking budgets at colleges. She says the need for formal training is growing as more people become diversity officers with little knowledge of the wide range of responsibilities and opportunities involved.

Jones says he was hopeful NADOHE’s efforts will dovetail with what’s being done at the state and local level. He stressed NADOHE’s desire to “complement” state and local groups and help provide a level of “expertise” many in the field may not have.

“We think we have a framework that will work,” Jones says.

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