University seeks to fill head diversity position

By Grant Morgan, Editor-in-Chief

In the print version of this article, it was wrongly stated that Carl Wallace, local pastor and community leader, is serving as interim chief diversity officer. Lakeesha Ransom, dean of the Honors College, has been in that position since Wallace’s term as interim ended on Aug. 31. 

Editor’s additional note: The Buchtelite will be contacting each of the candidates for chief diversity officer to get an outline of their plans for diversity and inclusiveness at UA, if hired. An article will appear with this information in a forthcoming issue.

After becoming vacant last spring, The University of Akron is now trying to fill its head diversity office on campus, and the search has been whittled down to three candidates.

Bryan Samuel of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Ame Lambert-Aikhionbare of Champlain College in Vermont, and Jolene Lane of Columbia University in New York are all vying for the position of UA’s chief diversity officer. Each is visiting campus around this time to both outline and take questions for their plans for diversity and inclusiveness at UA.

Samuel has been director of the Office of Equity and Diversity at UT Chattanooga since 2009. He already gave a speech and took questions at UA on Monday, Oct. 31 in the Student Union Theatre.

Lambert-Aikhionbare has been the chief diversity officer of Champlain College since 2013. Yesterday, she spoke about her plans for UA in the Student Union Theatre.

Lane, who has been the senior director of the Office for Diversity and Community Affairs at Columbia University’s Teachers College since 2008, will be speaking from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Union Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

According to a news release, each candidate will meet separately with students, reporting departments, community members and University leadership.

Lee Gill, UA’s former chief diversity officer who served in that position for eight years, left for a similar position at Clemson University on April 18, 2016. The position has since been served on an interim basis by Akron pastor and community leader Carl Wallace, whose term ended on Aug. 31, and thereafter by Lakeesha Ransom, dean of the Williams Honors College. 

According to the job posting UA made for prospective candidates, the chief diversity officer is “responsible for guiding efforts and creating opportunities to define, assess and promote diversity and inclusive excellence, educational and employment opportunity, and cultural proficiency throughout the University and through its relationships.

The committee formed at UA to search for candidates comprises UA’s John Messina, vice president of student affairs; Julie Zhao, assistant dean of engineering; Amy Druessi, social sciences professor; Lakeesha Ransom; Christian Howse, criminal justice student and head of UA’s Black Excellence Commission; Elaine Woloshyn, Bridgie Ford, special education professor; and Elaine Woloshyn, executive director of the International Institute of Akron.