University of Illinois Taps Greenwood/Asher in Hunt for Chief Diversity Officer

April 3, 2018 – Chief diversity officers are now considered part of every competitive organization’s senior management team and institutions of all types are lining up to bring these highly sought after leaders on board. Search firms, for their role, are well equipped and well-networked throughout the space. One sector that has increased its demand for top-drawer diversity leadership is academia.

The University of Illinois has enlisted Greenwood/Asher & Associates to lead in its search for a chief diversity officer. An outside team recommended the position last year after reviewing all the university’s programs that promote diversity, according to the News-Gazette in Champaign-Urbana. The campus spends about $60 million to promote diversity and inclusion, the team’s report found.

“This is an important search,” chancellor Robert Jones said. “We hope to have somebody who can help us think outside the box.”

The position will oversee a new cabinet-level office of diversity, equity and inclusion, said Robin Kaler, a campus spokeswoman. The vice chancellor of that office will work to integrate wide-ranging efforts on campus to enhance diversity, equity, access and inclusion across the university.

Founded in 1867 as a land grant institution in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, it is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system and a founding member of the Big Ten Conference. Various college rankings put Illinois among the top 50 universities in the world, and one of the top five engineering schools globally.

Veteran Recruiters

Greenwood/Asher & Associates is a women-owned executive search firm with a diverse consulting team and extensive experience in executive search, consulting and training for education markets including elementary, secondary, higher education, university systems, campuses, and non-profit organizations including associations, service and cultural institutions.


Here’s the Single Biggest Challenge Facing Diversity Leaders
Those who step into a new job as chief diversity officer tend to carry a heavy load. Theirs is an increasingly vital role. The challenges they face are complex and the demands of the position are many, with pressure coming from all sides.


Greenwood/Asher has worked with the University of Illinois in the past. In 2016, the firm placed Robert Jones as chancellor of its Urbana-Champaign campus. With more than 30 years of experience in public higher education, Mr. Jones was the president of the University at Albany, State University of New York.

President Jan Greenwood is a pioneer in U.S. higher education, having been the first woman president of a public four-year and graduate institution in Virginia. She is a licensed psychologist with experience as a psychometrist and with post-doctoral training in group methods. She brings these skill-sets to her work with clients, candidates and search committees.

Partner and vice president Betty Turner Asher brings to executive search, consulting and training a unique background of leadership service at all levels of higher education institutions and systems, in academics and student affairs and in public and private institutions.

Chief Diversity Officer Searches

Chief diversity officers are extremely important across the spectrum,” said Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector and its Million Women Mentors (MWM) Initiative. She also serves as vice chairman of Diversified Search, another recruitment leader in the field. “Their roles have shifted to insuring diverse talent as a primary role although they oversee outreach with organizations and are also often dotted lined to marketing and to supplier diversity for procurement.” Diversity officers, she added, are today “considered part of the business team.” And institutions of higher learning, in particular, are lining up to bring them on board.

Organizations of all kinds have turned to executive search firms in recent months to find chief diversity officers. Here is a sampling from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives.

Witt/Kieffer was tapped by Central Michigan University to find a vice president and chief diversity officer, a newly created role. Consultants Oliver B. Tomlin and Jennifer G. Bauer are leading the search. Witt/Kieffer said: “This is an exciting and challenging opportunity for a dynamic leader to coordinate Central Michigan University’s school-based and campus-wide diversity […]”

Bridge Partners helped to place the new chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Dr. Elavie Ndura comes to the renowned institution for the deaf and hard of hearing from George Mason University, where she led implementation of the school’s diversity and inclusion strategic goals and was a professor of education.

Carrington & Carrington placed C. Greer Jordan, PhD as chief diversity and inclusion officer of Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). In this role, Dr. Jordan provides strategic leadership for institution-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives. Dr. Jordan previously served as associate vice chancellor, diversity and inclusion, for the University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, MA.

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

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