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Announcement: Chief Diversity Officer

July 6, 201 7
 
Dear University of Maryland community,
 
The tragic and senseless murder on our campus of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III has shaken us all. We have begun an intensive effort to combat the rising incidents of racism, hate, and violence that are spreading across the country. The Joint President and University Senate Task Force on Respect and Unity (comprised of faculty, staff, students, and alumni) will start this summer its work to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all. 
 
It is urgent that we fill an important leadership vacancy, the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).
 
Over the past few months, we conducted a national search for a CDO that resulted in the identification of qualified external candidates. During the course of the search, others and I came to the realization that the individual best fitted for this position at this time was already on our campus. Provost Rankin and I consulted with the search committee. With the committee’s strong endorsement, we went forward with the decision on the CDO.
 
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Roger L. Worthington. Initially, he will hold the title of Interim Associate Provost and will be a member of the President's cabinet, the Provost’s senior staff, and the Council of Deans.
 
Since his arrival at UMD in 2014, Professor Worthington has chaired the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education in our College of Education.  
 
He is a leading scholar in the fields of diversity, multicultural counseling, and education. He is the editor of the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association, he received the Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. 
 
He is a seasoned administrator. During his years as Professor (1997-2014) at the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he won awards for teaching excellence and national service, he also served as CDO and Assistant Deputy Chancellor (2006-2011).
 
And, he is a nationally-recognized practitioner. He serves as a consultant to numerous colleges and universities on diversity planning, campus climate research, and intercultural student services. The Ford Foundation has funded his research, training, and practice on conducting difficult dialogues that bridge the racial, cultural, religious, and other divides on campuses.
 
A founding member of the board of directors for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (2006-2011), he is the principal author of the Standards of Professional Practice for CDOs. The Governor of Missouri appointed him to the state’s Commission on Human Rights.  
 
I created the CDO position as recommended in UMD's 2010 diversity strategic plan. However, this plan also expressed a “preference” for someday elevating the CDO position to a Vice President with faculty rank. I believe that day has come.
 
This would be a change in substance, not only in title. A VP for Diversity and Inclusion indicates a major institutional commitment of effort and resources in areas such as campus climate; recruitment and retention; scholarship and creative work on diversity; educational programs; and community engagement pursuant to our land-grant mission. In the coming year, we will develop more fully this new VP position and set forth the process for appointment. 
 
Our world has changed since we began this search. This CDO appointment is on an interim basis until the VP position is established. However, the CDO has the authority and responsibilities of a permanent appointment. The search committee, Provost Rankin, and I are very appreciative that Professor Worthington accepted the call to service in these fraught times.
 
I thank all the search committee members for their work and this successful outcome. I also thank Cynthia Edmunds for serving so ably as interim CDO while performing her duties as Staff Ombudsperson and University Equity Administrator. 
 
And, I thank all of you for your ongoing commitment to—and your efforts in support of—the core values of inclusiveness and respect for human dignity that define us as an institution and as a nation.
 
Sincerely,
 
Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland