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More than 1,000 provide feedback on chief diversity officer search

Northwestern elevating position in response

More than 1,000 students, faculty and staff have provided feedback after Northwestern requested input in its search for the University’s next Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). The input included more than 100 nominations for the position. 

In July, the Chief Diversity Officer Search Committee asked the University community what it considered the most important qualities and characteristics for the next CDO. The committee also asked for nominations for potential candidates, via a questionnaire.

The Chief Diversity Officer Search Committee is chaired by Manuel Cuevas-Trisán, vice president for Human Resources. The committee, including representatives from the student body, staff and faculty, will identify and recommend a slate of candidates to the provost. Feedback from the community will shape how the committee prioritizes particular qualities, characteristics and experience when evaluating candidates. 

“The CDO Search Committee was delighted by the level of interest demonstrated by our community in this critical search,” said Cuevas-Trisán. “We were intentional about not assuming ‘we know best’ and actively sought direct feedback from the broadest possible spectrum of stakeholders. As a result of this direct engagement, we received actionable insights, which informed our vision for our future CDO.”

Since the CDO search began, the search committee has met with more than 35 groups of faculty, staff and students. Early in the search process, community members began advocating for the next CDO to have a direct connection to the Office of the President, saying it is important for the CDO to be a part of decision-making at the highest level of the University. 

This was also a theme in the responses to the July questionnaire. President Morton Schapiro and Interim Provost Kathleen Hagerty welcomed this suggestion and decided to elevate the position. The new CDO will continue to report to the provost, but also will become a member of the President’s senior staff. 

The announcement comes roughly two months after President Schapiro and other senior leaders wrote to the Northwestern community, underscoring the University’s commitment to racial and social justice. The letter said the leaders “vehemently oppose anti-Blackness and police brutality.” A national search for Northwestern’s CDO is part of that commitment.  

The incoming CDO will oversee an office dedicated to coordinating efforts to counter racism and exclusion and promote equity and access. In addition, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) provides programs and resources and engages in advocacy for students, staff and faculty of all backgrounds.

Community feedback gathered during this process will be shared with the incoming CDO when that individual assumes their position. The committee continues to welcome input and nominations, which can be sent to CDOSearch@northwestern.edu.

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