Saint Xavier University Selects Academic Search for Chief Diversity Officer Search  

September 20, 2021 – Education-focused executive recruiter Academic Search has been chosen to find the inaugural chief diversity officer for Saint Xavier University (SXU) in Chicago. Leading the assignment are senior consultant Carlos Medina and consultant Andrea Cowsert.

“Saint Xavier University seeks in its inaugural chief diversity officer a courageous, collaborative, strategic and inspiring leader who has a track record of building programs and partnerships to address the intersecting dimensions of diversity,” said Academic Search.

The CDO will be expected to lead and champion the development, implementation, coordination and assessment of proactive diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, said the search firm. This work will be accomplished in support of SXU’s strategic plan to create a learning community in which all have an opportunity to succeed. The diversity leader will hold a senior-level position, reporting to the university president. He or she must be a visible and connected leader who actively engages students, faculty and staff to further behaviors, attitudes and policies that support equity and inclusion, and foster a sense of belonging.

Assessing Barriers

The CDO will be charged will collaborating with university stakeholders to assess potential barriers and develop strategies to recruit and retain a diverse workforce and assess the need for and recommend training initiatives designed to increase inclusivity and cultural competencies.

Among the key responsibilities of the job, the chief diversity officer is expected to serve as a thought leader, advisor, and effective communicator. “The CDO will lead the university in implementing board-approved strategic initiatives and serve as a thought leader, advisor and effective communicator in helping to create an inclusive environment across the university,” said Academic Search. “The CDO will bring subject matter expertise and a record of proven leadership involving cultural change in an organization around diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The individual must also develop and execute a cohesive vision and implement a DE&I plan.  The CDO must provide best practices and common language and definitions to ensure a collective and cohesive understanding of DE&I work across the campus and beyond.

The new CDO must be a bold and energetic individual with a proven record of progressively responsible leadership. The individual must have a passion for higher education, be intellectually curious and creative, demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit and manifest a commitment to transparent communication.

Key Qualifications

Candidates are required to have a master’s degree in college student personnel, humanities, social science, cultural and ethnic studies, psychology or a related field. A doctoral degree is preferred. A significant and progressive record of successful leadership working in higher education or a related field, preferably in an MSI/HSI setting, is also essential. Bilingual (Spanish-speaking) candidates are preferred.

Strong understanding of student development theory and student engagement practices is vital. Candidates should have proven experience in developing, implementing and assessing equity and inclusion strategies, initiatives, and programs. A demonstrated ability in fostering all elements of DE&I, including race, gender, LBGTQIA+, disability, neurodiversity, veteran status, etc., across faculty, staff, students and alumni is also required.

Related: Why Universities Have Stepped Up Efforts to Involve Search Firms

Saint Xavier is a comprehensive, coeducational, Catholic university sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas through the Conference for Mercy Higher Education. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846 and chartered in 1847, Saint Xavier’s historic roots make it Chicago’s oldest college and one of the first institutions of higher learning in Illinois. Saint Xavier serves a diverse population of 4,000 students and offers more than 40 undergraduate degree programs and nearly 30 graduate degree program options.

Higher Education Recruiters

For over three decades, Academic Search has been a leader in designing and implementing search processes for leaders of colleges and universities across the country. The firm has completed hundreds of executive searches for higher education institutions and related organizations, for roles ranging from presidents to provosts to deans. Academic Search is the only search firm in the nation with a formal relationship to a premier leadership development program. As the subsidiary of the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), the firm provides substantial financial support to a number of leadership identification, development and support programs across all sectors of public and private higher education. The firm is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Medina is the former vice chancellor and founding chief diversity officer of the State University of New York (SUNY) System, the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the nation. He has more than 30 years of progressive responsibility in state government and higher education with proven experience in leadership, management and staff development.

Ms. Cowsert, who also serves assistant director of communications, has been engaged in more than 80 searches for a variety of both public and private institutions. The searches for which she has assisted have included chief executive officers, provosts and the full range of cabinet-level vice presidents, and deans of major academic units. Ms. Cowsert previously worked for the American Council on Education, USAID, U.S. Department of State, and the White House. She also has worked as a research editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and written articles for a range of national publications.

Related: Academic Search Recruits President for Norwich University

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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