Meeting of Big 12 CDOs Convenes at Texas Tech, INSIGHT Publisher Speaks

Members of the Big 12 Chief Diversity Officers chapter gathered at Texas Tech University (TTU) Jan. 13 and 14 to discuss current events related to diversity and inclusion happening on U.S. college campuses.

[Above: INSIGHT Into Diversity Co-publisher Lenore Pearlstein (third from left) with diversity administrators from HEED Award institutions]

This was the first quarterly meeting of the chapter to be held at TTU since the organization formed in 2008. Discussions focused on recent student protests on college campuses across the country, the upcoming Fisher v. the University of Texas affirmative action case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education’s “Standards of Professional Practice for Chief Diversity Officers,” a set of guidelines developed to clarify the roles of CDOs.

“We are thrilled to once again host this distinguished group of higher education professionals and to further assert Texas Tech’s national leadership and model for access, equity, and inclusive excellence,” said Juan Sánchez Muñoz, PhD, in a press release prior to the event. He is senior vice president of TTU’s Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement and vice provost of undergraduate education and student affairs.

Pearlstein presents a section of the 2015-2016 HEED Award Benchmarking Report.
Pearlstein presents a section of the 2015-2016 HEED Award Benchmarking Report.

TTU is a four-time recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, which recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Lenore Pearlstein, co-owner of Potomac Publishing, Inc. and co-publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, was a guest speaker at the meeting. She presented sections of the 2015-2016 HEED Award Benchmarking Report, including data and characteristics of this past year’s award recipients and their diversity and inclusion efforts.

She also discussed how colleges can effectively market and leverage their diversity accomplishments to improve their campus’s bottom line, as well as the role CDOs play in regard to diversity and inclusion in higher education.

Jason Kirksey, PhD, Big 12 chapter president and vice president of institutional diversity and chief diversity officer at Oklahoma State University, commended the meeting as a way to bring CDOs together to discuss issues and share best practices.

“This is a great time for us to come together, exchange ideas, and figure out new things to try on each of our college campuses regarding diversity and inclusion,” Kirksey said in a statement prior to the conference. “At this meeting, one of our focuses is [on] attracting diverse faculty and staff. In particular, we will discuss strategies aimed at recruiting and retaining high-quality faculty members [who] will promote diversity and inclusive excellence across the Big 12 university campuses.”

TTU live-tweeted the event with highlights from speakers, including Pearlstein, Muñoz, and Kirksey, as well as Jabar Shumate, vice president for the university community at the University of Oklahoma; David Fryson, vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at West Virginia University; and Gilda Garcia, CDO and Title IX coordinator at Texas State University.