University begins search for vice president of Division of Diversity and Community Engagement

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The search for the new vice president for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement has begun, and UT President Gregory Fenves has announced a 13-member committee to search for a candidate to fill the position.

The vice president of diversity and community engagement is responsible for promoting a culturally diverse and inclusive campus and creating a pathway for underrepresented students to be academically successful, according to the division’s website. Leonard N. Moore has been the interim vice president since July 2017.

The committee includes alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members. The members include Luis Zayas, dean of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, who will chair the committee, as well as Student Body President Alejandrina Guzman.

“The search committee will work with me to find a remarkable candidate who has the knowledge, experience and skills to form strong bonds with our students, faculty members, staff members and the greater Austin community,” Fenves said in a press release.

Biochemistry senior Ariana Caranto said she believes this is a chance for the University to deal with diversity in a new way.

“We as a society think that ignorance is bliss,” Caranto said. “But it’s really nice to learn about these new cultures rather than ignoring them and being ethnocentric.”

Nutrition junior Savannah Hudson said she is relieved that the search committee is a large group of diverse people. Actions like the removal of the Confederate statues in fall 2017 are steps in the right direction for diversity and inclusion, Hudson said.

“It’s important because we are on a huge campus and there are all different types of people here,” Hudson said. “One task is making sure everyone feels included so that it is just not one main race.”

Hudson said diverse leadership better represents the student population.

“You want a diverse board of people to look for this position of diversity,” Hudson said. “You need people (who) can relate to every race and culture.”

Caranto said the diversity on campus is one aspect that helped her choose to study at UT.

“It’s really important because diversity is all around us, especially in Austin where diversity is celebrated,” Caranto said. “I think (it’s important to have) that person who is well versed in diversity to really demonstrate to the students that he cares about diversity just as much as the students do.”