Archie Ervin, UNC’s associate provost and chief diversity officer, will be leaving to accept a newly created position at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“It’s like anything else with opportunities that appeal to you that give you a chance to build on things you’ve done and do them differently or perhaps even better,” said Ervin, who will be the inaugural vice president for Institute Diversity.
Ervin, who has served in the post since 2005, will take his new position Jan.1 to lead Georgia Tech’s strategic plan for diversity and sit on the president’s cabinet.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney said he has already asked someone at UNC to serve as an interim officer next semester in Ervin’s absence, and that he will hear a response from that person by Monday.
“Diversity is much too important an issue to me and the campus than to let it lag,” said Carney, who declined to name the official he asked.
He said UNC plans to begin a national search for someone to replace Ervin, but he wouldn’t comment on the possibility of an internal hire.
Carney said he hopes to have a new hire by the end of the spring semester.
Ervin said the University administration has created a framework for better understanding diversity at all levels of the University.
Ervin is the third upper-level minority administrator to leave UNC in the past two years. Both former Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bernadette Gray-Little, who left in 2009 to be chancellor of the University of Kansas, and Melissa Exum, who was UNC’s associate vice chancellor for student affairs before becoming Purdue University’s vice president for student affairs this year, were black.
Despite this loss of minority leadership, Ervin said he does not want anyone to think the current administration is going to value diversity less in his absence.
“I think that is absolutely the wrong perception,” he said. “This chancellor has managed to put together a very diverse — both racially and gender-wise — administration, and I think it’s unfair, and in fact, erroneous, to say that there is a lessening of commitment for any one, single individual’s departure.”
Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs, has worked with Ervin in recruiting students, in serving on committees and most recently in celebrating the 55th anniversary of UNC’s desegregation.
“I think we’ll continue to push forward on issues of diversity as we always have and we have to be happy for him — he’s getting a great opportunity to expand his career but we’ll miss him and all he’s brought to Carolina,” Crisp said.
Carney said he and Ervin have had several discussions about how to improve diversity issues on campus, but that it hasn’t been easy to implement solutions.
“Both of us have concluded that the campus has made progress in diversity, but it has been slow and we’ll know more when a diversity assessment is concluded later this year,” he said.
The assessment, which was spearheaded by Ervin, will most likely be finished by the spring, Carney said.
Ervin said UNC has made strides in recruiting diverse students as well as having more diverse professional schools.
“The continuing challenge is this: We must find a way to address the structural barriers that prevent us from moving the needle on increased racial and ethnic diversity in the faculty in general and increasing the gender diversity in the leadership across the entire University community,” he said.
Ervin has been at UNC since 1986, when he was first named assistant to the vice chancellor for University affairs. He served as assistant to the chancellor and director for minority affairs from 1999 to 2005.
Ervin was an integral part of bringing support to the Carolina Latino/a Collaborative, which formed last year to both unite and integrate Latinos on campus.
“We thank him for that and we hope the next person will be as much of a champion for the CLC as he as been for us,” said senior Ron Bilbao, undergraduate assistant to the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative.
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