Reaching for Diversity
The desk in Cheryl Nuñez's office is a sea of manila folders broken by flecks of reddish-brown where the sunlight from the tall, lone window strikes the wood surface. Another group of folders peers out of a black bag underneath the desk surround. Still more protrude from the side pocket of Nuñez's purse. And then there are the file drawers—reams of research underscoring the seriousness of the task at hand.
A petite woman who emanates a focused intellectual energy, Nuñez came to campus last May as Xavier's first vice-provost for diversity. Her charge is to help pave the school's path to a more inclusive future. To do that, she's set to work building bridges and overseeing the creation of a diversity plan that will ultimately impact all aspects of the University. She spends her days mining others' experiences and burrowing her way through historical documents, reaching for the roots of the existing perspectives, resources and attitudes that lie at the University's core. And with 175 years of Xavier history to examine—most of it dedicated to educating white males—there's much to digest.
What's more, the very nature of diversity makes it impossible to concretely state tomorrow's goals today. "The idea of a quest for diversity suggests that it's a product we're seeking, or an outcome," Nuñez says. "In fact, it's a process as well. And it is in many ways in the process that its value really lies."
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