Dear Vanderbilt community,
On Monday, July 26, the university announced that the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence was merging with the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as a way of broadening and deepening Vanderbilt’s resources for fostering a welcoming and supportive culture across campus. Under the direction of Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, this action was taken for a number of reasons, including:
- to unify all EDI efforts into one team under the leadership and direction of the vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion;
- to streamline decision-making and offer more clarity on who is leading these efforts; and
- to unify current and future EDI programs with a single mission and vision under the leadership of the vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.
The unified office will serve all members of our Vanderbilt community—staff, faculty, students, postdoctoral scholars, alumni and the broader community. The Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will work closely with all of our stakeholders and continue to serve as strong partners with the campus community at VU.
Consolidating all EDI activities into one office will enhance our capacity and the efficiency of our approaches and practices. As a result, the activities of the former Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence and the identity centers and initiatives will be seamlessly integrated into the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, where they will be overseen by our new Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Belinda ’Otukolo Saltiban, who recently joined Vanderbilt after years of leading EDI efforts at universities in Utah. There she built and managed successful programs to enhance campus climate while strengthening relationships and engagement throughout the institutions to effect exceptional care, accountability and results.
In our reorganization, I am committed to a long-term investment in time, purpose, intent and program development. My team and I will actively listen, carefully assess information and be deliberate in our actions. We will offer our “blood, sweat and tears,” and much more. We will lead discussions and engagement with an active listening ear and a willingness to let evidence guide us. We will use our creativity to experiment with new diversity programs when needed. In this merger, we also will incorporate the four identity centers—the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center; the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center; the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Life; and the Center for Spiritual and Religious Life—as well as our identity initiatives: SomosVU, InclusAbility, Network First-Gen and PersistVU. Given the growing diversity and intersectionality of our community and the numerous groups that the identity centers and initiatives serve, it is natural that they would be housed in the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
We acknowledge that this exciting time full of change brings opportunities and challenges. As we collaborate even more closely on our EDI efforts, we will seek more input from and engagement with the Vanderbilt community in the coming year. Moreover, as the academic year begins, a host of current and new programs will be available for the challenging times we are facing in our society. Based on COVID-19 protocols, we will offer a number of in-person venues for discussion, listening and reflection as we seek your ideas and understand your needs. Together we can leverage the benefits of this new structure to deepen and accelerate our progress in fostering an environment where every member can thrive and experience a genuine sense of belonging.
André L. Churchwell, M.D.
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
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