Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado announced via email to the campus community Oct. 24 that Roger Richardson will no longer hold the interim chief diversity officer position at the college.
Richardson will continue working at the college as associate provost of diversity, inclusion and engagement, a position he held in conjunction with the interim chief diversity officer when that position was created by previous President Tom Rochon Nov. 10, 2015. In the email, Collado also said that a search firm, Witt/Kieffer, has been chosen to lead the search for the following positions: provost and vice president for academic affairs; vice president for finance and administration; and vice president and general counsel.
The chief diversity officer position is not being removed from the college, but no one will occupy the position until a search begins after this academic year. The position was created in an effort to improve the racial climate at the college after major student-led protests in 2015 criticized the administration’s handling of racially-charged events on and off campus. The position’s search was put on hold in March and was expected to begin again this fall.
Students and faculty expressed concerns over the creation of the position, saying that Rochon created the position as a scapegoat instead of actually addressing racial tensions on campus.
Collado said in the email that it is common for many colleges to create a chief diversity officer position without fully immersing it into the institution’s mission concerning equity and inclusion.
“Unfortunately, these roles are often created on the heels of an incident, and the person filling it is frequently the only person of color at the senior leadership team’s table,” she said.
Collado said the search for the position will resume after she finishes reorganizing her senior leadership team.
The provost search will be launched before Thanksgiving break, which begins Nov. 18. The college plans to launch the search for the vice president for finance and administration following the launch of the provost search, according to the email. The third search will be for vice president and general counsel. Collado said she will be creating search committees to join Witt/Kieffer in finding the candidates.
Dave Maley, senior associate director for media and community relations, said the college would not comment on how much the search firm will cost.