The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday December 7th

Terri Houston resigns as diversity head at UNC

Terri Houston, who has in her 13 years at UNC established a reputation as a mentor for minority students, will resign her position as senior director of recruitment and multicultural programs, effective April 30.

Houston said Wednesday that recent leadership change in the office fueled her decision to leave.

Houston served as interim associate provost for diversity and multicultural affairs following the departure of Archie Ervin last year. Taffye Clayton became the permanent vice provost for diversity and multicultural affairs in February.

Houston, who said she did not apply for Clayton’s position, said the reasoning behind her decision was complex, but discussions with senior administration revealed that Clayton wanted to take the office in a different direction.

“What I’ve been told is that there’s going to be some reorganization and there are going to be some changes,” she said.

When asked whether she was pressured to submit her resignation, Houston declined to give a definitive answer. But input from senior administrators played a prominent role.

“They may have a reason,” she said. “I don’t think they do.”

Clayton declined to comment on Houston’s resignation and her own vision for the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney declined to comment, citing Houston’s resignation as a personnel matter. Chancellor Holden Thorp was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Houston said she is not bitter because of the change in leadership.

“I hope this change will be for the good of UNC-Chapel Hill,” she said.

Students who have worked with Houston said she is best known for her strong personality and willingness to form relationships with many students at a time.

“If you get a chance to talk with her and meet her, she cares about you and where you’re going,” said former Student Body President Jasmin Jones, who worked with Houston and considered her a mentor.

“She will never miss a moment to connect with you.”

Senior Ari DeDeaux, who has worked with Houston in several programs, said her strength is the emotional connections she makes with students.

“You can really just tell how important students are to her,” DeDeaux said.

“Once you’re one of her kids, you’re one of her kids for good.”

Houston said she will stay at the University in some capacity for a few months following her departure.

“As I leave this place, know that I am not far,” she told members of the Black Student Movement at their final meeting of the school year Wednesday. “You are a part of my life.”

At the meeting, Houston stressed the importance of activism for the organization’s future as the category of diversity begins to encompass more than just race.

Rural students, students with physical disabilities and gay and lesbian students are now a part of the demographic, she said.

“Don’t you forget about your black brothers and sisters,” she said. “Don’t you dare.”

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