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Update on Process, Survey for Hiring Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion

Dear Members of the Clark Community,

I recently shared with you the news that Sheree Ohen, Clark’s Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion (CODI) since 2016, would be leaving her role here at the University on September 18 for a new opportunity at Harvard. Sheree’s work has contributed significantly to Clark’s efforts at inclusive excellence, even as we recognize the need to do more—more of what our institutional values demand of us as we strive to build a truly inclusive community, counteract systemic racism, and actively promote justice and equality at Clark.

I am therefore moving expeditiously to launch a national search for a new leader to shape, direct, and advance the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Clark. A search committee including representatives of the student body, faculty, staff, administration and alumni will be formed in the next few weeks and I am currently confirming plans for interim leadership to guide the work of our Office of Diversity and Inclusion during the search. Searches for leadership positions typically take 4-6 months but, depending on market conditions and other factors, can take longer.

As a first step in this search, I would like to invite all members of our community to share your perspectives on the issues of diversity and inclusion at Clark—historically, at present, and looking forward—and thereby help to shape the priorities of this critically important role and the skills, experience, characteristics, and qualities we should foreground in our assessment of candidates. As reference, below you will find the description of the position used for the search conducted in 2016.

As you think about Clark’s engagement in diversity, equity, and inclusion and this position description, I invite insights on all related topics, such as:

  • What are the top three actions that Clark should take in the immediate future to progress?
  • If we were to look back five years from now, what seminal changes in this area would most demonstrate that Clark is living up to its commitments and values?
  • What models of excellence in this area should we evaluate as Clark charts its path forward?
  • What are the most important professional skills and personal attributes that our next CODI should bring to the position?
  • What are the critical parts of the prior job description that must remain—and what should be removed or significantly changed?

Your timely perspectives on such matters will add to the important information gathered over the last two years through the Survey on Campus Culture and Community and the #ClarkForward initiative.

As this search unfolds, we will continue with determination the efforts to which we committed this summer. Even as we do so, this transition allows us to think anew about how we approach this work, how to get to where we want to be as a community in which everyone who is part of it feels a powerful sense of belonging and unstinting support. We will learn from existing models of inclusive excellence and change and from what has worked, and has not, at Clark already. Guided by the promise of new CODI leadership, we can chart how to fulfill the promise of these efforts in an even more effective way, and in a way that reflects the best of this close community dedicated to research, teaching, scholarship, and impacting the world.

The overarching objective of all this work must be one fundamental goal: to achieve inclusive excellence for all. We must create and maintain a campus environment in which all of our students, faculty, and staff feel supported and in which all are afforded the opportunity to do their best work and be their best selves as they bring every dimension of their identities to Clark. With all the tensions pulling at society, and all the ways these tensions affect Clark and its people, we urgently need to bring our communities closer together and foster understanding and respect for difference and our shared humanity. I am confident that we will succeed if we remain guided by our highest values and committed to the spirit of learning at Clark’s core.

As we put in place a comprehensive national search for this position of critical importance to Clark’s work, please share your ideas about this mission and the position description through this submission form. I look forward to hearing from you and to sharing your ideas with members of the search committee once the group is empaneled.

I will write again at the end of the month to report on our plan for interim management of the CODI’s leadership responsibilities and progress to date on the actions we announced this summer to advance the University’s goals of diversity, equity and inclusion.

With best wishes,

David B. Fithian


January 2016 Position Description

Clark University

Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion

Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, seeks an accomplished and visionary leader for the position of Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion (CODI). Reporting directly to the President, the Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion is responsible for the advancement and implementation of a strategic vision and initiatives that demonstrate the University’s commitment to a welcoming, inclusive environment for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The successful candidate will work collaboratively with the University’s senior leadership team, deans, department chairs, faculty, staff, student groups, and other key campus and community partners to meet the University’s goals of equity, diversity, and compliance; to sustain a community in which individuals from all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and national backgrounds are welcome; and in which people of all gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, age, and ability can flourish.

Diversity and Inclusion at Clark University

Diversity and inclusion are integral to the mission of Clark University. Clark’s educational mission is advanced through the presence on campus of faculty, staff, and students from diverse backgrounds and identities. Clark embraces diversity in its broadest meaning to include race, religion, age, national and ethnic origin, socio-economic background, gender identity, and gender expression. To fulfill Clark’s mission, diversity must be paired with a process of inclusion such that all members of the community have the opportunity to succeed and to benefit from respectful engagement with others.

Of Clark’s 2,300 undergraduate students, 24% of domestic students are students of color (5% African descent, 8% Latina/o, 9% Asian, 2% multiple ethnicities or Native American).  More than 15% of undergraduates hail from 69 foreign countries. 18% of undergraduates are first-generation college students.

Over the years, the University has regularly taken stock of where it stands with respect to its own diversity and inclusion goals, as well as in response to changes in the external environment. The most recent comprehensive assessment was completed by a faculty, student and staff task force in 2012. Among the conclusions of the 2012 diversity task force report was a recommendation to establish an Office of Diversity and Inclusion to provide a central coordinating presence for efforts to enhance campus climate. The recommendation was accepted and the new position of Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion was established in 2013 as a direct report to the President.

The 2012 task force report provided a guide for other actions the University would take to strengthen the lived-experience of diversity and inclusion on the campus. These actions included efforts to strengthen the recruitment of staff and faculty of color, the establishment of new faculty committees to support the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and to monitor campus climate, as well as curricular and co-curricular programming initiatives.

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Clark University leadership has determined that the role of diversity and inclusion should report directly to the President and should now become a full-time position. The community fully supports this transition and the great impact it will have across the community.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion advances Clark University’s institutional priority of engaging faculty, staff, students, and alums with a wide variety of backgrounds, perspective, interests, abilities, and talents while ensuring that the climate and conditions on campus promotes diversity and inclusion.

The Office periodically analyzes the campus climate by means of meetings, interviews, and surveys. The Office also:

  • Identifies key constituencies and areas in need of diversification and/or support
  • Raises awareness about difference and acceptance, and organizes on-going cultural and professional development for faculty and staff
  • Sponsors and promotes diversity-related programming at Clark and related external venues and beyond
  • Regularly reports to the Clark community on these efforts

Above all, the Office keeps an open-door policy and provides a safe space for all members of Clark to discuss their concerns about issues involving diversity and inclusion in confidence or in conversation with members of other constituencies.  For additional information related to Diversity and Inclusion:

The Position

Reporting directly to the President, the next Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion will have two distinct but related roles. The incumbent will spearhead the advancement of a strategic vision and implementation strategies that demonstrate and further the University’s commitment to a welcoming, inclusive environment for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Building on the 2012 Diversity Task Force Report’s roadmap, this position will develop and implement concrete multiyear strategic plans for promoting diversity and inclusion with specific goals and measures of success.  The role requires both the imagination to create a vision for Clark that leads diversity and inclusion initiatives in higher education, along with the administrative ability to articulate and realize concrete measures for affecting that vision.  The position advocates for an environment that is safe and welcoming for all, across all lines of difference.

The Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion will have the following responsibilities and opportunities:

  • Oversee the operations of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and its staff;
  • Define key areas in need of attention and/or support and recommend policy changes;
  • Develop and review recruitment, hiring, and retention practices throughout the university to support diversity and inclusion; initiate and organize ongoing instruction on matters of diversity and inclusion for faculty, students, and staff;
  • Coordinate and support the work of campus units, student groups, and departments that advance social justice and foster cultural and historical awareness;
  • Chair the standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion that includes undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty, and jointly oversee the Campus Climate Committee with the Director of Human Resources;
  • Stay current on effective practices locally and nationally. Publicize and promote diversity and inclusion both at Clark and externally by establishing a wide range of networks;
  • Remain knowledgeable of trends within higher education to ensure the integration of best practices for Clark and its culture;
  • Track and report diversity metrics on faculty, staff, and students and provide reports appropriately;
  • Develop and oversee the delivery of educational programs in collaboration with other positions on campus and ensure that policies, procedures, and regulations have been communicated broadly and consistently.


The successful candidate will be a strategic, innovative, and visionary leader with proven experience in leading diversity and inclusion in higher education initiatives and have a successful record of advancing implementation strategies that demonstrate the University’s commitment to a welcoming, inclusive environment for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  Candidates should also have:

  • Strong administrative ability to articulate and realize concrete measures for implementing the strategic vision;
  • Knowledge of major academic and diversity issues with a demonstrated clear understanding of the importance of a diverse and inclusive environment in a comprehensive university or similar setting;
  • Demonstrated understanding of federal, state and local laws, regulations, and guidelines related to affirmative action and civil rights enforcement;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, a collaborative communication style, and the proven ability to work with sensitive and confidential information;
  • Demonstrated experience as a mediator with well-developed conflict resolution skills;
  • An ability to work collaboratively and effectively with various constituencies throughout the campus.