In the wake of several racial incidents that plagued the University of Maryland during the 2016-2017 school year, the university appointed Dr. Roger L. Worthington as its new chief diversity officer. He takes over for Kumea Shorter Gooden, who resigned in January.
Worthington, who also is Interim Associate Provost, has worked at UMD as professor and chair of the Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education within the college of education
“I came to the realization that the individual best fitted for this position at this time was already on our campus,” said UMD President Dr. Wallace D. Loh. “Provost Rankin and I consulted with the search committee. With the committee’s strong endorsement, we went forward with the decision on the CDO.”
Prior to joining UMD, Worthington served as a chief of diversity officer, assistant deputy chancellor and a professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.
“Serving as the chief diversity officer at the University of Missouri from 2006 to 2011 gave me a tremendous foundation in approaching the challenges and also the extraordinary opportunities associated with this role,” Worthington said in a statement last week.
Loh said in a statement that the death of Bowie State University (BSU) student 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III on UMD’s campus in early May began an “intensive effort” to tackle the increase in discriminatory incidents on their campus.
Collins, a business administration major, ROTC member and army officer was vising the UMD campus a few days before he was scheduled to graduate from BSU. Police say Collins and friends were waiting for an Uber around 3 a.m. after leaving a party. UMD student Christopher Urbanski approached the group of friends and told Collins to step out of his way, Collins refused and was stabbed in the chest. Urbanski was arrested and charged with murder and assault.
“Campuses across the country are grappling with difficult issues when it comes to combating hate,” said Worthington. “I aim to help bring the community together at a challenging time in our society and on our campus. It is important that our work on issues of diversity and inclusion is supported by strong leadership paired with grassroots initiatives from across the campus community.”
Worthington has a great amount of experience within in diversity. He is a consultant on diversity planning, campus climate research, and intercultural student services for many colleges and universities. He is also a founding member of the board of directors for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.
UMD is in the process of elevating the CDO position to Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion to reflect a commitment to ensuring UMD’s campus is diverse in all aspects. “This would be a change in substance, not only in title,” said Loh.
“I am optimistic, both personally and professionally, that we will chart a path forward together and create a campus community deeply rooted in unity and respect,” said Worthington
Ya-Marie Sesay may be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or via twitter @Sesayyamarie