April 8, 2022 – Oak Brook-IL-based WittKieffer has placed Mary Grace A. Almandrez as the new vice president for diversity and inclusion at Syracuse University. Leading the assignment were consultant Christine J. Pendleton, senior associate Sandra Chu, and senior partner Robin Mamlet. She was selected following a national search that yielded a diverse and highly qualified pool of candidates. “Mary Grace’s depth and breadth of professional and academic experience make her uniquely qualified for this position,” said Kent Syverud, chancellor. “I have great confidence in her ability to move Syracuse forward in achieving our aspiration to be a university that is truly welcoming to all. She has demonstrated visionary leadership, creativity, and resilience throughout her career in working through some of the most challenging issues. I look forward to welcoming Mary Grace to the Orange community.”
“Mary Grace is one of those rare people to whom you feel instantly connected, a trait that I have no doubt will resonate with students, faculty, and staff,” said Cerri Banks, vice president and deputy to the senior vice president in the division of the student experience and co-chair the search committee. “We were seeking a leader with a proven track record of bringing about positive change in challenging the status quo. Mary Grace brings with her a wealth of experience and a gift of teaching and communicating that will be vital to her role.”
“After receiving insights from our campus community through several consultative sessions, it was clear that we needed to find a leader of courage and compassion, a visionary with the ability to spark and sustain change through collaboration and inspiration,” said Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel and co-chair the search committee. “Dr. Almandrez has demonstrated, through her experience and the interview process, the qualities necessary to have a positive impact in this critical leadership role.”
Since March 2020, Dr. Almandrez has served as associate vice president for community, equity, and diversity and chief diversity officer at the University of Rhode Island (URI) after serving in an interim role for over a year. Before joining URI, she spent seven years at Brown University, where she held a number of leadership positions, including associate vice president and dean of students. Prior to Brown, she was assistant dean of students for multicultural student services at the University of San Francisco. Dr. Almandrez began her career in higher education as director of multicultural services at McDaniel College.
“Syracuse University is well-poised to be an exemplar of integrating scholarship and practical application in campuswide diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility initiatives,” said Dr. Almandrez. “Syracuse is a forward-thinking institution with a community equally committed to advancing DEIA priorities. I am looking forward to building on that momentum and working collaboratively with students, faculty, staff and the greater Syracuse community. I am grateful to chancellor Syverud entrusting me with this important role. I thank the search committee chairs, its members and all members of the community that I met during this process.”
Syracuse University, in Syracuse, NY, was founded in 1870. Over 21,000 students are enrolled in nationally ranked undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in the university’s 13 schools and colleges. Syracuse University has about 1,700 full- and part-time tenured or tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty. Syracuse is a university of national stature and international opportunity, known for its professional programs, investment in research and innovation, and undeniable school spirit. Ranked No. 58 among national universities by U.S. News & World Report, Syracuse University was named, in 2021, a top producer of Fulbright Scholars.
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Ms. Pendleton, who works out of WittKieffer’s Oak Brook office, joined the firm in 2014. She works to identify presidents, chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, and chief diversity officers on behalf of public and private universities and colleges and other senior leaders in non-profit organizations. She is a member of the firm’s diversity council and director of its community fund. Prior to joining WittKieffer, Ms. Pendleton worked at a community-based education, career development and supportive services organization in Chicago. In her role, she was responsible for developing and implementing fundraising, marketing, communications, and program growth plans.
WittKieffer has placed Kauline Cipriani as VP for diversity and inclusion for Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, CO. Leading the assignment were Charlene Aguilar, consultant; Christine Pendleton, senior associate; and Bree Liddell, associate. “We are just thrilled to welcome Kauline to the leadership team of Colorado State University,” said Joyce McConnell, president of CSU. “She is taking on this critical role with a track record of success wherever she’s been and will be able to build on the excellent work done by her predecessor, Mary Ontiveros.”
Ms. Chu, based in Geneva, NY, works in WittKieffer’s education practice. She has more than 20 years of experience in leadership development, project and relationship management, and executive recruiting. Prior to joining WittKieffer, Ms. Chu was a principal with Two Tigers Consulting in Geneva. Concurrently, she was a consultant for MMS Consulting of Langhorne, PA, where she project-managed two national conferences on student health and wellness in the K-12 space. A former all-Ivy League athlete, Ms. Chu served as a collegiate rowing coach for 22 years, mentoring athletes at Princeton University, Kansas State University and Hobart and William Smith College.
Ms. Mamlet, based in Philadelphia, is a nationally renowned executive search professional and former WittKieffer managing partner. She focuses her time on working with governing boards, senior leadership teams and search committees in searches for presidents, provosts, vice presidents and deans for many of the firm’s most valued clients both in the U.S. and around the world. A national leader on access and diversity recruitment, she joined WittKieffer after 23 years in academic administration, most recently as dean of admission and financial aid at Stanford University.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media