NADOHE President's Message

Benjamin D. Reese, Jr., NADOHE President
Benjamin D. Reese, Jr.,
NADOHE President

Dear Colleagues,

The importance of our work has been highlighted by the disturbing number of race-related incidents across our campuses.  Our leadership role in assessment, dialogue and systemic change is a critical component of a college or university’s response to, and elimination of such incidents.  We must continue to collaborate with our colleagues in senior administration, staff, students, and the community to ensure that our environments promote and support academic excellence for all students and prepare them for the complex and diverse work and living spaces that increasingly characterize our nation.

According to Madeline Will, a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education, who attended the 2015 NADOHE Annual Conference, “The racial climate on college campuses was one issue of primary focus during NADOHE’s Annual Conference.  That topic has claimed the national spotlight, most recently after a video surfaced of several University of Oklahoma fraternity members’ singing a racist anthem. (Two of the students were expelled.) In North Carolina, the recent killings of three young Muslims and a backlash against the call to prayer at Duke University shocked students. And the Black Lives Matter movement, fueled by a recent wave of African-American men’s deaths at the hands of white police officers, also has found a place on campuses.1

As Ms. Will notes, the timeliness and timing of such events led to rich conversations that took place during the conference, March 16 -18, 2015, in Washington, DC, which garnered a record-breaking attendance and unprecedented media coverage. Discussions took place around the major conference theme of “Getting it Done: Rising to Opportunities and Challenges in Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education” and session topics addressed the complexities of today’s diverse learning and work environments; the changing legal and regulatory landscape; and building administrative capacity within institutions to rise to opportunities and challenges in diversity and inclusion.

A highlight of this year’s conference was the Preconference Institutes, which in part, focused on NADOHE’s recently published Standards of Professional Practice for Chief Diversity Officers. Conference keynote speakers included Dr. Damon A. Williams, Senior Vice President and Chief Education Officer, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, who opened the conference and Dr. R. Shaun Harper, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, University of Pennsylvania, who served as the closing conference keynote to a standing room only crowd.  The concurrent sessions addressed important topics such as Title IX, campus climate surveys, developing diverse faculty, and infusing community relations into diversity work. New this year were poster sessions, offered to accommodate the more than 60 proposals that were submitted for consideration as a result of NADOHE’s annual call for conference proposals, of which only nine could be selected for presentation in a concurrent session format.

During the Awards Ceremony held at the conference, the winners of NADOHE’s Inclusive Excellence Awards were recognized for their important work. The four award categories included: Individual Leadership, Institutional Excellence, Outstanding Dissertation, and the Dr. Frank W. Hale, Jr. Distinguished Service Award. The winners were:

  • Individual Leadership - Leslie Garcia, Assistant Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Vice Provost at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), the only academic health center in the state of Oregon.
  • Institutional Excellence - Des Moines University for its ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion and recent intentional programming to bring diversity and inclusivity to all aspects of curricula, operations and culture.
  • Outstanding Dissertation - Kara Gravley-Stack of North Dakota State University, for her dissertation, Achieving Inclusive Excellence: The Role of Change Agents and Institutional Artifacts in Diversifying Institutions.
  • The Dr. Frank W. Hale, Jr. Distinguished Service Award - President Mildred Garcia, of California State University, Fullerton, who has dedicated a substantial period of her career to promoting diversity initiatives in higher education and is the first Latina president in the California State University system.

During the Annual Membership Meeting held at the conference, incoming members of the board of directors took the oath of office and the outgoing members of the board of directors were recognized for their years of service. This includes:

  • Incoming Board of Directors Members
    Alfreda Brown, Kent State University
    Taffye Benson Clayton, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    David Camacho, Northern Arizona University
    Juan Munoz, Texas Tech University
    Jewell Winn, Tennessee State University, Member-At-Large
    Clyde Wilson Pickett, Community College of Allegheny County, Member-at-Large
    Jeffrey Carr, Point Loma Nazarene University, Chapter Council of Representatives Chair
  • Outgoing Board of Directors Members
    Shirley Collado, Rutgers University - Newark
    Gilda Garcia, Texas State University
    Raji Rhys, University of Arizona
    Gregory Vincent, University of Texas
    Arthur Dean, James Madison University, Chapter Council of Representatives Chair

Also recognized during the conference were the graduates of the inaugural CDO Fellows Program, Ande Diaz, Associate Provost for Diversity & Organizational Development, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA; and Sumun L. Pendakur, Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity, Office of Institutional Diversity, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA. A professional leadership program of mentorship for new and early career Chief Diversity Officers, the goal of the one academic year CDO Fellows Program is to provide the Fellow with mentoring by a senior level CDO and guided professional development experiences. The second cohort of the CDO Fellows Program will begin later this summer.

Another professional development opportunity aimed at more seasoned CDO’s is the 2015 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University/NADOHE Chief Diversity Officer Summit, which will take place Wednesday, September 30 - Friday, October 2, in Chicago, IL. NADOHE has been in collaboration with the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, to create this high level summit designed to bring together CDO's from the higher education, corporate, non-profit, and government sectors to discuss trends and identify areas of overlap and opportunities to further our shared goals. If you are interested in registering for this event, please contact the NADOHE office at 561-472-8479.

In addition to developing opportunities for collaboration within the United States, NADOHE continues to expand its reach internationally and embarked on its first ever study mission over the summer. Approximately 35 participants represented NADOHE on a study mission to Cuba, July 11 – 18, the theme of which was Cuban Education, Race, Gender, and Culture. NADOHE also works closely with the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), and discussions about a joint meeting between NADOHE and AIEA continue to develop.

As strategic efforts to further our mission continue to be explored, such as collaborative opportunities with organizations such as NCORE, Excelencia in Education, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Southern Regional Education Board, Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3), and the LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education, your feedback and participation is critical. Please let us know of opportunities and/or organizations that you think would help to further the shared goal of inclusive excellence in higher education.

Our goal is to provide you with the resources you need “get the work done,” and to that end, be on the lookout for the new NADOHE Member Resources Clearinghouse, which should go live sometime this summer. On behalf of the NADOHE board of directors, I thank you for your commitment to NADOHE and to the important work that you do. 


1 - Will, Madeline. “Sensing a Moment, Diversity Officers Swap Tips on Improving Campus Climate.” Chronicle of Higher Education, 19 March 2015.


Leading Higher Education Towards Inclusive Excellence