The University is beginning the process of hiring a chief diversity officer who will oversee a new Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Sewanee Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety has announced that the University is beginning the process of hiring a chief diversity officer, who will have the title of vice provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The vice provost will oversee a new Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Provost Nancy Berner will lead a national search for candidates for this critical position. 

Amid America’s own reckoning with systemic racism, the Board of Regents recently called the University to become a “model of diversity, of inclusion, of intellectual rigor, and of loving spirit in an America that rejects prejudice and embraces possibility.” In September, Brigety named several initiatives toward this goal, which will be increasingly important as Sewanee recruits students, as well as faculty and staff, from an ever more diverse pool.

The vice provost will assess current programs and practices to identify barriers that limit progress in the areas of DEI and recommend changes; lead development of the diversity pillar in an upcoming strategic planning process; partner with other offices and students to support a welcoming and inclusive campus climate; and ensure that diversity and inclusion initiatives are integrated throughout the University.

“The vice provost will help ensure that Sewanee’s campus climate reflects the University’s deepest value, that of EQB,” said Brigety. “The work to enhance DEI at the University of the South will be integrated in everything we do—how we recruit students and prepare them for the world, how we achieve academic excellence, how we recruit and support faculty and staff, and how we interact with our neighbors and the world. I’m excited to continue this work together.”

Brigety noted that much great work already has been done at Sewanee toward diversity, equity, and inclusion. The chief diversity officer will work with those who are already engaged in these issues, and will coordinate and leverage the University’s various efforts for greater overall effectiveness.

  • With the support of the Office of the Dean of the College, Betsy Sandlin, associate dean for inclusion and faculty development, has conducted bias training for faculty search committees, advised the Sewanee Academic Diversity Cohort student group, and served as the University’s liaison with the Posse Foundation, among other initiatives. 
  • At the School of Theology, a standing Committee for Diversity and Reconciliation leads the seminary community in discussions around a range of issues, including race, racism, and discrimination, and seeks to widen the presence and participation of underrepresented groups throughout the School. 
  • The Provost’s Committee for DEI has brought together members from across campus to begin work on an institutional bias reporting protocol, diversity training, and additional support for our diverse student body.