History of the Office

Welcome to the Office of the Assistant to the President for Diversity and Equity. A new position, implemented in 05-06, the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) provides university-wide leadership to support the development and success of institutional diversity initiatives that advance the broader objectives of Xavier University's Catholic, Jesuit mission and its long-range strategic plan. That charge grew out of the recommendation of the President's Diversity Advisory Committee, based on an extensive assessment process that included listening sessions with a broad cross-section of the campus community. The administration and the Board of Trustees responded with a strong pledge of support and redoubled Xavier's commitment to engage the intellectual and social benefits of diversity in the pursuit of institutional excellence. This office, a strategic diversity planning framework and funding structure, a new Harassment Code and response unit, and the Womens' Center currently under proposal are just a few of the promising results of their collective vision and hard work.

For the purpose of guiding that work, the Diversity Office has borrowed from Darryl Smith's very helpful framework for understanding how diversity operates across the distinct yet interrelated institutional spheres she describes as student access and success, education and scholarship, campus climate and intergroup relations, and institutional transformation. Conceptualizing diversity in this way highlights the inadequacy of defining it in fixed, categorical terms. It clarifies the need for specialized strategies to broaden educational and employment access and specialized support mechanisms for groups with exclusionary histories. It compels us to examine whether the curriculum and classroom practices mimic that exclusion or, instead, include a multiplicity of ideas, perspectives, and ways of knowing to the benefit of all learners. It makes a clear distinction between the benefits of representational diversity and the positive outcomes that accrue from spontaneous and facilitated interactions among individuals and social identity groups. Finally, it draws attention to the imperative of institutional stewardship for a set of broad public purposes that depend upon the full and equitable inclusion of the nations diversity in democratic life.

Toward these ends, the CDO, supported by the Diversity and Equity Committee, serves as a resource to all members of the campus community seeking to implement strategic plans that advance institutional diversity goals (see Institutional Diversity Indicators).  In addition, the Office houses a number of educational resources for understanding diversity in the context of higher education, which can be accessed by appointment.