Diversity initiatives lead to position

By Jack Manning

NIU President Doug Baker has started the search for a chief diversity officer, a position created to better accommodate NIU’s diverse student body and staff.

Before making the decision to create the position, members of Baker’s administration looked at the demographics of the campus. The diversity officer will work with other members of the university’s senior leadership to enhance the recruitment, retention and social integration of faculty from diverse backgrounds, according to a NIU news release.

“If the school wants to have a diverse campus then there has to be some sort of supervisor to take care of that,” said Michal Novak, freshman business management major.

Among the search committee for the position is Lisa Freeman, interim executive vice president and provost.

“We would look to this position to provide leadership, ideas and energy,” Freeman said.

The diversity officer will serve on the president’s cabinet and the council of deans, and he or she will report to the executive vice president and provost, according to the release.

During the search for the position, Baker and his staff will, in the spring, study other schools that are notable for their students’ variety of backgrounds. They hope NIU can incorporate the other schools’ strategies and practices into its own campus.

“We are looking for someone who has worked in this area for a long time, has experience and knows the complexity,” Baker said.

Freeman said the ability to collaborate is an important part of the vision for this position, as is heartfelt commitment. Freeman said NIU has a vibrant and diverse student body, and she sees that as one of NIU’s strong points.

“I think it’s important to have different diversities on campus and to meet people with different connections to other people,” said freshman nursing major Kathryn Minor.