The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is delaying the hiring of a new Assistant Chancellor for Justice, Diversity and Inclusion after the former administrator announced in a letter to faculty on October 29 that she was forced out of the job.
Chancellor Venkat Reddy, the recruiting authority for the position, told The Gazette that he had decided to postpone the search for a successor on the recommendation of the faculty's minority affairs committee.
Members said they wanted to see "listening sessions" with various factions on campus before promoting the position nationwide, Reddy said.
This way, “we have more time to listen to different groups and learn how we can best structure the office in the future,” he said.
Although classes will not resume until Tuesday, input sessions are already taking place in small groups with students and faculty in a largely distant format, the Chancellor said.
"One of the things I am proud of is that we have a great culture," said Reddy, "but there is still a lot to be done to understand that diversity is not just the work of some people on campus, but that it is. " must be anchored on campus so that everyone is aware of it. "
Andrea Herrera, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Justice, Diversity and Inclusion for nearly three years, wrote in a letter to members of a Diversity Faculty meeting that she had received "openly hostile and intimidating treatment" from Reddy. She also claimed that such treatment creates a "toxic work environment".
Reddy said, "People have the option to say what they want," adding that he had no further comments as the situation was a personnel matter.
"DR. Herrera did her best," he said.
Herrera didn't respond to a request for an interview, but a source provided The Gazette with her letter.
In the letter, Herrera alleged that the ongoing friction between her and the Chancellor caused her to request mediation in May 2019, which resulted in her reporting to another top administrator for a year. In May 2020, she was notified that she would be under Reddy's direct supervision again.
After expressing concern about Reddy at a Faculty Diversity Assembly meeting in October that was attended by representatives from all academic programs, her complaints were returned to Reddy.
Herrera said in late October that she had the choice of stepping down, signing a clearance of all application forms and receiving a flat-rate bill, or simply stepping down. If she didn't, she was told that she would be removed from the position of deputy vice chancellor.
Declining the options, Herrera wrote in her letter: "Women and underrepresented and / or minor peoples have always been silenced and … in response to a larger pattern of disregard for genuine commitment to justice, diversity and inclusive excellence."
She also noted that she did not voluntarily or voluntarily resign.
As of November 1, Herrera returned to teaching as a professor of women's and ethnology, said Reddy, a program led by Herrera's temporary successor, Stephany Rose Spaulding.
Spaulding, who taught and directed the Women's and Ethnic Studies program, became UCCS 'full-time interim Vice Chancellor for Justice, Diversity and Inclusion on January 1. She worked part time from November 1st to December. 31.
School officials did not make Spaulding available for an interview. She will stay in the role until a new deputy vice chancellor takes over, Reddy said.
The director of women's and ethnology is now sociology professor Heather Albanesi.
Reddy said he wished Herrera all the best in her classes and hoped she was successful.
He called the situation "unfortunate".
“I am fully committed to justice, diversity and inclusion. This is important to me, UCCS and the system, ”he said. "If I want to talk about respect and compassion, I have to stick to it."
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The process of hiring someone to permanently replace Herrera is a semester behind, Reddy said, adding that a search committee has already been appointed and steps have been taken to find candidates. He assumes that the finalists will be brought to campus for interviews in the fall and someone will be on the job in a year.
"We're rethinking how best to set up this office for the future," said Reddy. "The idea is that we collect a lot of data and look at the culture so that all of this is useful for our next leader."
Other factors related to the hiring delay are that UCCS is also on the hunt for a new provost, restrictions from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and a new $ 1 million infusion to encourage diversity initiatives on each of the four locations and in the headquarters of the CU system administration.
System President Mark Kennedy announced additional funding from the CU Foundation in October after years of color students on the CU Boulder campus and critics of the top minds complained that administrators did not appreciate diversity enough.
Kennedy hired a system-wide chief diversity officer last February, which some should have done sooner.
The Chancellor of CU-Boulder announced in October that he had started a search for a Chief Diversity Officer for the campus. The position is still being filled.
The $ 5 million split between campus and administration will be used to help meet the goals of a new strategic plan that will increase the percentage of underrepresented students and staff, and improve retention and graduation rates for students with skin color , low income, first generation, and LGBTQ + and making sure people feel included.
According to Reddy, UCCS is using some of the money to expand the multicultural Student Access, Integration and Community Office, also known as MOSIAC, as well as the LGBT + Resource Center.
Students help design the renovated space, which is currently suitable for around nine people. Construction is expected to be completed in March.
MOSIAC was founded in 2003 to support the academic, personal and social development of underrepresented ethnic minority students and has since expanded to include all students in multicultural education programs.
Both immediate and fundamental changes are part of the UCCS plan to improve equity, diversity and inclusion efforts, Reddy said.
For example, the HR department is introducing new training programs for managers and employees.
"Diversity isn't about ticking a box," Reddy said. "It's about enriching the culture of the organization."
UCCS is above national averages for race, age, gender and geography, scoring 80 out of 100 in a survey by collegefactual.com.
According to enrollment data for Fall 2020, 36% of the 9,767 students enrolled were ethnic minority students and 27% of the 1,980 doctoral students were minority groups.
According to data, 19% of the 1,618 faculties and staff were ethnic minorities.
Among her accomplishments, Herrera said in her letter that she created a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion, established the faculty diversity gathering and student diversity gathering, accepted an anti-racism course for white students, and a diversity scholarship program launched.
"She did a lot of work," Reddy admitted. "We won't lose everything Dr. Herrera did.
“When planning the future, it doesn't matter and starts all over again. This builds on what has been done. "