October 27, 2021 – Oak Brook, IL-based search firm WittKieffer has been enlisted to find a chief diversity officer/ vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion for Brandeis University. Leading the assignment are principal Charlene L. Aguilar and consultant Shelley Arakawa. “Brandeis seeks a leader who, in consultation with the entire campus community, can build upon current diversity and inclusion efforts to continue moving the campus forward,” said the search firm. “The CDO will articulate a vision around diversity, equity, and inclusion to provide leadership, concrete steps, counsel, advocacy, accountability, programming, and a point of connection and communication for the university.”
The CDO, a member of the president’s cabinet, will report to university president Ron Liebowitz. Responsibilities of the CDO role include but are not limited to: overseeing the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Intercultural Center, Office of Equal Opportunity, Gender and Sexuality Center, and the university-wide ombuds program for students, faculty and staff; reviewing, evaluating and communicating, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the effectiveness of current diversity and inclusion strategies including the anti-racism plans, making recommendations on best practices and proposing new programs and initiatives where appropriate; and supervising the design, development, and delivery of training and professional development programs that assist faculty, staff and students in achieving the university’s diversity and inclusion vision.
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The CDO should have progressively responsible administrative experience that includes the advancement of diversity and inclusion initiatives and management of professional staff, budgets and other resources, a demonstrated record of success leading organizational initiatives, building programs and promoting diversity and inclusion, and relevant advanced degrees.
Candidates will be expected to bring a depth of experience and a broad understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion to be able to collaborate with students, staff and faculty and form links with the academic community, the search firm said. The CDO must be a strategic thinker and consensus builder with a record of advancing an anti-racist, anti-discriminatory agenda that recognizes anti-Semitism and works to create inclusion among all of the protected class categories represented in the Brandeis community.
Equally important will be an ability to listen deeply, empathize and be compassionate with students and all employees. The CDO is required to be “a courageous trailblazer, unafraid to confront conflicts, empathetic, proactive, results-oriented, collaborative, creative and forward-thinking,” said WittKieffer. The ideal candidate will also have an appreciation of Brandeis’ history, culture and values.
Brandeis University, located in Waltham, MA, is a medium-sized private research university with global reach. Founded by the American Jewish community in 1948 as a nonsectarian institution at a time when exclusionary practices prevented equal access to some of the nation’s best universities, Brandeis has always welcomed talented students and faculty of every ethnicity, religion and cultural background. Its faculty members include Nobel Prize recipients and Pulitzer Prize winners. The campus is home to 3,493 undergraduates and 1,947 graduate students, 544 faculty and 1,573 staff members. The total student body includes 28 percent domestic students of color and 24 percent international students.
WittKieffer assists hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, medical schools and physician groups; biotech, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical device companies; colleges and universities, and not-for-profit community service and cultural organizations with senior administrative recruiting assignments. With more than 100 search professionals nationwide, its consultants recruit CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CNOs, physician executives and other leaders.
Based in South Bend, IN, Ms. Aguilar works in WittKieffer’s education practice. With over 30 years of experience, she conducts leadership searches for college and university presidents, chancellors, provosts, and deans, in addition to key positions in advancement, academic and student affairs, enrollment and admissions. She also has knowledge and experience on diversity and inclusion initiatives across the spectrum of independent secondary schools along with public and non-profit enterprises.
Ms. Arakawa, located in Los Angeles, is a change agent with a passion for strengthening access and excellence in education. In her executive search work, she brings an appreciation for the role that leaders play in transforming institutions and contributing to the larger society. Ms. Arakawa provides counsel and guidance on searches ranging from presidents and provosts to vice presidents and deans.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media