The University of Mississippi community has been abuzz with Chancellor Dan Jones’ announcement of a plan for leadership on race issues and diversity this morning. One prong of that plan involves creating a new executive position at UM.
The Chancellor said the new vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion will be selected after a nationwide search. “The job description, title and responsibilities for this high-level position will be established during the fall semester,” he said. “Although we have a chief diversity officer now, our overall efforts have been dispersed.”
The written plan is the product of about two years of research and consulting with other professionals, including Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, who was named vice president for diversity and community engagement in 2006, when President William Powers, Jr., created an entirely new division as one of his four strategic initiatives for the University of Texas at Austin. Vincent was hired to analyze the university’s organizational structure and how it relates to diversity and inclusion.
Vincent today said he sees similarities between the University of Texas and the University of Mississippi in terms of the respective histories of the two institutions and the need to work through certain issues.
“The University of Mississippi is another public flagship university in the South,” Vincent said. “Like most all of the public flagships in the South, it had a history of state-mandated segregation and the symbols of that. The University of Texas is no exception. Even today we have statues of confederate figures, including Jefferson Davis. We were the subject of a major segregation case, Sweat v. Painter, in 1950. So, Texas has some of that same history. That’s why I was so encouraged to read Chancellor Jones’ report, because the steps that will be taken will go a long way toward addressing those issues, much like we’ve worked to do at UT Austin.”
“One of the most important parallels,” Vincent said, “is outstanding leadership. I have a lot of confidence in Chancellor Jones and the entire University of Mississippi community. My interviews with alumni, faculty, staff, and students, really encouraged me that this is hard stuff, and that deserves a real commitment to address these issues head-on.”
Vincent noted that his role at Texas is a bit more expansive than the similar position being created at the University of Mississippi, but both require the right candidate.
“Much like any other key issue on campus, one thing you can be sure of when you hire a strong vice chancellor is that this person is going to wake up in the morning thinking about these issues. As with any strategic issue, it’s really important to have someone who’s going to be the visible point on that issue.”
University of Texas Consultant Sees Parallels Between UT and UM
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