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University of Virginia Appoints William Harvey to Lead Diversity Initiatives

University of Virginia Appoints William Harvey to Lead Diversity Initiatives


University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III named William B. Harvey, a nationally known higher education expert on diversity in colleges and universities, the university’s first vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity.

Harvey, who for the past five years has served as vice president of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C., will join the university Nov. 1.

Prior to undertaking his assignment at ACE, Harvey was dean of the School of Education and deputy chancellor for Educational Partnerships at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also served as special assistant to the vice-chancellor for research at North Carolina State University, and before that was assistant vice-provost for Undergraduate Studies at State University of New York at Stony Brook.

“Bill Harvey has long been a strong voice on matters of diversity and equity in higher education. He has focused much of his academic career on these issues and on the people most directly affected by them, both in the classroom and through his writings,” Casteen said. “I look forward to the impact he will have on our curricula, on teaching and learning within the university, and on the larger community. He brings a record of successful advocacy for the proposition that in order to serve our society justly, American universities must be inclusive and supportive of all of their students and faculty members. The work he has done in a variety of professional assignments has gained him national prominence and prepares him well for leading the university’s diversity initiatives.”

The President’s Commission on Diversity and Equity, a yearlong study launched on Sept. 5, 2003 to examine the social and academic cultures at the university, recommended creation of the position of vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity. In his charge to the commission that day, Casteen said, “We hope you will be able to find common ground and areas of difference . . . to study the populations from which we draw our students, and to review the rules of equity and fairness to see if they work for everyone.”

Harvey’s appointment, much anticipated in the university community, sends a signal just how serious the university’s and the Board of Visitors’ commitment is to diversity, Casteen said.

In fact, it was the depth of that commitment that attracted Bill Harvey to U.Va. “Few institutions have looked so comprehensively at the issue,” Harvey said. “The range of engagement that is expected of this position, and the fact that it has direct responsibility to the president, were central to my decision. It was clear that the University of Virginia was interested in transformation at all levels of the institution.”

Harvey said he has no illusions that he will be doing this work by himself, noting that it will take effort from everyone. “But I plan to communicate regularly and often. My message will be that diversity is important to maintaining the University’s high level of recognition, reputation and ranking — that a diverse environment is absolutely critical to the educational experience — and that diversity is a part of excellence — not apart from excellence.”  

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