Rutgers President Announces Plan to Inflate Diversity Bureaucracy

Ashley Thorne

According to a Rutgers faculty member, the following email went out to the Rutgers community from President Robert L. Barchi this week:

Dear Members of the Rutgers Community: 

When I came to Rutgers last year, I was immediately impressed by the tremendous diversity on all of the campuses. As you know, that diversity—which represents a wide range of religious, racial, and ethnic affiliations; economic backgrounds; disabilities; and cultural and sexual identities—is a considerable strength for Rutgers, and it will be a cornerstone of our new Strategic Plan. I was surprised to discover, however, that, unlike many of our peer institutions across the country, Rutgers does not have a strong organizational structure to support diversity initiatives, and its absence has been a central concern since I arrived. 

Over the past several months, I have met with many faculty and staff members who, like me, believe there is a need to build on our strengths in the areas of diversity, with the additional focus of expanding upon our rich tradition of research and scholarship in these areas. Further, we should focus on the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty, staff, and student body, and support additional initiatives in the areas of diversity and inclusion. As members of the Rutgers community have stressed on a variety of occasions, we should be showcasing and strengthening our institutional diversity, one of the defining characteristics of our University. 

For these reasons, I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Jorge Reina Schement to the newly created position of Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, effective July 1, 2013. Jorge—who brings to this position a wealth of personal experience, professional expertise, and visionary leadership—will direct a new office devoted to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. A Mexican-American who learned English as a second language growing up in southern Texas, Jorge’s scholarly career has focused on issues of access and inclusion for minorities and marginalized groups. Jorge was on faculty from 1987 to 1996 and returned in 2008 as Dean of the School of Communication and Information (SC&I). Prior to his return, Jorge had been Distinguished Professor in Communication and Information Policy at Penn State University. 

After broad consultation with the campus community, Jorge will reconstitute the University-wide Council on Diversity and Inclusion, which he will chair, and which will meet with me at least twice each year. He will also be reaching out to the campus community in the coming weeks to seek input on shaping the direction of the new diversity office. Finally, with this office, we are creating Vice Chancellors for Diversity and Inclusion on all campuses—Camden, Newark, New Brunswick, and Health Sciences—in order to further diversity and inclusion initiatives at the campus level. While reporting to their respective Chancellors, the Vice Chancellors for Diversity and Inclusion will also work directly with the University-wide diversity office. Once these new structures have been in place for two years, we will conduct a formal evaluation to assess their efficacy and implement any needed changes. 

I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Claire McInerney to serve as Acting Dean of the School of Communication and Information, effective July 1. Professor McInerney, a 13-year member of the Rutgers faculty, is currently Associate Dean of SC&I. Among her many accomplishments, Professor McInerney helped design the Information Technology and Informatics undergraduate major and chaired the Department of Library and Information Science during its successful accreditation process. Professor McInerney, whose most recent research focuses on how people and organizations create and share knowledge, has taught undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. courses at SC&I. 

I am confident that Jorge will provide exceptional leadership and vision as we launch this vitally important office, which will provide a strong foundation for our diversity initiatives. Please join me in congratulating Jorge and Claire on these appointments and in offering them our full support. 

Sincerely, 

Robert L. Barchi
President

Image: Chipperhatter.com

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