IDE holds open forum, asks public what they want in next vice chancellor

Members of the MU community said they wanted a candidate that is helpful in building relationships in the community, knowledgeable of social issues and future-oriented.
The University of Missouri Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, who are currently searching for a new vice chancellor, apply the Inclusion Excellence framework to promote the collegiate success of MU’s diverse student body. Photo Courtesy of University of Missouri Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

In search of the next vice chancellor of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, the Division of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity held open forums on Nov. 19 in the MU Student Center and Jesse Wrench Auditorium to get the public’s input on what they want in potential candidates.

Former vice chancellor Kevin McDonald left for the University of Virginia on Aug. 1. IDE has established a search committee and is now building the profile for candidates based on McDonald’s performance and the public’s input.

“Vice chancellor doesn’t just serve the Chancellor,” Pat Okker, Co-Chair of vice chancellor Equity Search, said. “Vice chancellor serves the entire campus, so I think it’s important that we hear from the entire campus.”

The vice chancellor supervises the divisions within IDE and their projects. The role also demands they work with the chancellor and faculty across the university.

MU faculty, IDE fellows and other community members mainly said they wanted a candidate who was a previous faculty member, has academic knowledge on social issues, is future-oriented and can build strong relationships in the community.

Those in attendance also said IDE could improve as well. They said they wanted the IDE to hold the vice chancellor accountable, to give the vice chancellor real authority and support and to implement the framework McDonald created. The Inclusive Excellence framework lays out multiple ways in which inclusion can be implemented on all levels of campus.

The discussion also touched on the events of 2015 when then UM System President Tim Wolfe resigned after multiple student protests.

“The first thing I think is important is somebody who is going to come in and learn, because one of the ways the status quo is restored is that most people try to start from scratch when they get here,” Michael Williams, assistant professor in the Department of Education Leadership and Policy Analysis, said.

Williams presented data he and his research team collected that said the issues they were identifying today were the same issues they have been identifying since 1996.

“2015 is not the entire context of this university. There’s plenty of racism, sexism, genderism that went on before 2015 that wasn’t addressed because the football team had nothing to do with it,” Williams said. “We have a lot of longstanding members of the university community whether they are still on campus or they’re still members of the surrounding community who have seen these issues repeat themselves over and over and over again."

The search committee kept 2015 in mind and addressed it before discussion began.

“We had some difficulties back in 2015, and when I was asked to become the UM president of the system in response to the leadership breakdown, one of the first things I said was, ‘The only way we survive this trauma is if we dedicate ourselves to becoming a model for dealing with diversity, equity, and inclusion,’” Michael Middleton, former UM System President, said.

There was another open forum later that day for students. One student attended. However, there will be more open forums for students and faculty in the future.

“Something that would be impactful, at least for us, is just whoever takes up that next position kind of knowing or at least being aware of some of the issues here on campus, at least for Native [American] students,” Ryder Jiron, Four Directions Indigenous People’s Allies President, said.

IDE has a survey where any member of the MU community can add what qualifications or requirements they want for the vice-chancellor position.

Once IDE gains enough input and information, they will create the profile and begin recruitment. Okker said they hope to have someone ready by the beginning of the next academic year.

Edited by Alex Fulton | afulton@themaneater.com

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