Cal Poly is currently searching for a vice president and chief officer for diversity and inclusion, a position that will directly report to President Jeffrey Armstrong. The top four candidates for the position will each participate in forums at Cal Poly on Jan. 23, 26, 30, and Feb. 2 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC). The forum is intended to give a platform for faculty, staff and students to voice their questions and inspect the candidates before Armstrong makes his
final decision.

The position, previously known as the executive director of diversity and inclusion, has been filled by Interim Director Jean DeCosta since Annie Holmes resigned Nov. 22, 2015 to spend more time with her family and enact change at an organizational level without institutional challenges, according to an interview with Mustang News from Dec. 4th, 2015.

According to Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance Cynthia Vizcaino Villa, the decision to raise the position to vice president was made in mid to late Spring 2016. The new status causes the selected candidate to report directly to the president as a member of his cabinet rather than to another lower administrator, giving hope to students such as Queer Students Union President and political science junior Matt Klepfer. Klepfer is one of three student representatives on the search committee. He hopes the individual will be better able to make change on campus.

ASI President Jana Colombini also mentioned the significance of the title.

“I would also like to commend President Armstrong for making this a vice president level position as well. Huge steps being made for Cal Poly!” agricultural sciences senior Colombini said.

The decision will be made by Armstrong with input from the search committee and others in early to mid March, and will serve in the position between 30 and 90 days after being decided, dependent on their work and life obligations, Villa said.

The presence of faculty and students on the search committee is also a part of the administration’s attempt to keep the student voice heard in selecting the
new administrator.

Klepfer said he thinks it is crucial for more students to attend forums such as these. He believes it is a campus decision to make and wants to see different faces.

“It’s usually the same people that go to these things,” Klepfer said.

The search committee, involving three student representatives, three professors and six members of faculty, have been working since July to find the candidates, according to Villa.

The search received assistance from Isaacson Miller, an executive search firm that provided approximately 20 candidates to the search committee which then personally interviewed eight final candidates each for an hour and a half before settling on these final four, according to Klepfer.

All four finalists have experience in working with diversity and inclusion on a university level, and hold graduate degrees. Their full resumes can be found online on the president’s website, and from an email sent to students and faculty from the Office of the President.

Josephine De Leon

Josephine De Leon, whose forum is on Feb. 2, holds a dual PhD of bilingual education and special education from New Mexico State University, an M.A. in educational psychology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and a B.S. in early childhood education from Fayetteville State University. She held the position of vice president for equity and inclusion while being a professor at University of New Mexico since 2008, and worked in education since 1972.

Nathalia Jaramillo

Nathalia Jaramillo, whose forum is on Jan. 26, holds a PhD from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in urban schooling, an MA from Harvard in international education policy and a BA from University of California, Riverside (UCR) in psychology. She has been the deputy chief diversity officer of Kennesaw State University since 2014, and was a professor of critical studies in education from 2011-2013 at the University of Auckland, and of educational studies at Purdue University from 2007-2011.

William Lewis

William Lewis, whose forum is on Jan. 30, has a PhD of higher education administration from Indiana University, and a Master of social work and a B.S. in criminal justice from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. He is a principal member at an analytics company that focuses on diversity and inclusion. Past positions include vice president of the office of diversity and inclusion at Virginia Polytechnic , director of the office of institutional diversity at Bridgewater State College and director of diversity initiatives at Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Paulette Granberry Russell

Paulette Granberry Russell, whose forum is Jan. 23, holds a Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and a double major in political science and public administration from Michigan State University (MSU). She served at MSU since 1998 as the senior advisor to the president for diversity and the director of the office for inclusion and
intercultural initiatives

The candidates will be visiting around the same time Milo Yiannopoulos will be on campus to perform his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” on Jan. 31st, a performance that has angered some with its lack of inclusion.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *