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End in sight for UNC diversity provost search

Photo: End in sight for UNC diversity provost search

With the selection of four candidates for the position of vice provost for diversity and multicultural affairs, the University has moved one step closer to addressing its diversity woes.

Of the 54 heads of departments and centers in the College and Arts and Sciences, only five are minorities, an issue interim Associate Provost for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Terri Houston said requires action.

After months of searching, the University announced that Taffye Clayton, Charles Alexander, Roger Worthington and Pedro Caban would visit UNC on Oct. 11, 14, 18 and 25, respectively. Interviews with each candidate will be held in the Pleasants Family Room of Wilson Library.

Whoever is chosen will become a member of the provost’s cabinet, meeting weekly with Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney.

Houston said whoever succeeds her must be able to work with a wide range of constituents.

“The candidate has to bring a willingness to listen but yet a passion to know that change can come,” she said.

The finalists all come from similar professional backgrounds, each having been head of a diversity program at a major university.

Charles Alexander is director of the Academic Advancement Program and associate vice provost for student diversity at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Alexander said his experience qualifies him for the position because the size and structure of the universities are similar.

“It’s going to be a learning experience,” he said.

Pedro Caban was vice provost for diversity and educational equity for the State University of New York system from 2007 until 2011.

Barbara Hardman, Caban’s administrative assistant for three years, described him as a passionate advocate for diversity.

“He was a true champion of diversity and a champion of underrepresented minorities in New York state,” she said.

Caban declined to comment before visiting campus.

For Taffye Clayton, returning to the University as a vice provost would mean having the opportunity to strengthen the minority support system of her alma mater.

“It’s all about what I think is the authentic opportunity to contribute to an environment that contributed so much to me as a student,” Clayton said.

Clayton is the associate provost for equity, diversity and community relations and chief diversity officer at East Carolina University.

Roger Worthington, who was chief diversity officer at the University of Missouri from 2006 to 2011, declined to comment about his candidacy before his interview.

Paul Godley, chairman of the search committee, encouraged the community to discuss diversity with the finalists in October.

“I think we have outstanding candidates,” Godley said. “People need to come and see for themselves what they are about.”

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