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Third finalist for UNC chief diversity officer presents in open forum

Virginia Hardy, the current vice chancellor of student affairs at East Carolina University, is the third of four candidates for UNC’s next vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

The search for UNC’s next vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer continued on Tuesday with a presentation from Virginia Hardy, the current vice chancellor of student affairs at East Carolina University. 

Hardy is the third of four finalists. At the open forum and Q&A session, she presented her goals, citing experiences from her professional roles, mainly focusing on her 27 years at ECU. 

Hardy, as well as the first finalist Cecil Howard and second finalist Sibby Anderson-Thompkins, were given this topic to guide their presentations: 

“The VP/ CDO will be an ‘ambassador’ who facilitates challenging conversations between stakeholders on campus as well as with alumni and the community that surrounds our university. Please describe your experience in this area and how you would leverage that experience to help The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to navigate the complex dynamics of being a flagship university in the American South during an increasingly fractious and polarized time both on and off campus.”

Open forum: 

  • Hardy, who earned her undergraduate degree in education at UNC, spoke about her main goals, including relationship building on and off campus, effective and frequent communication, setting expectations, and improving education, acknowledgment and accountability. 
  • “My skills, my experience, my knowledge, my passion and even the self-awareness that I bring to the equation in relation to the position I think make me a strong candidate for this particular position at UNC at this particular pivotal time in the history of the institution,” Hardy said. 
  • Hardy’s focus is on “how we can have courageous conversations that can lead to bold benefits and bold actions,” she said. She emphasized the importance of building relationships and trust to improve engagement and create an open dialogue. 
  • Hardy highlighted several initiatives she helped lead at ECU, including a name change of a residence hall, building the second-largest LGBTQ+ center in the state and nurturing positive student connections. 
  • “Intentional, inclusive communication creates space for people to feel a part and feel a sense of belonging and connection to the institution,” she said. “It will take a village to advance the DEI agenda and to make it part of UNC’s DNA.” 


  • Hardy participated in a Q&A session, moderated by search committee chairperson Suzanne Barbour. They discussed a variety of topics including lessons learned from the pandemic, inclusion and participation.  
  • Hardy said she predicted that some of the adaptations that higher education made during the pandemic, like remote access, will become permanent elements post-pandemic. She wants to implement the lessons she learned about virtually building a community and sense of belonging. 
  • Hardy emphasized the importance of staff voices in building an inclusive University. 
    • “If you’re not listening to them, you’re only getting a part of the story,” she said. “If you’re missing half of the population, you can’t build the University that you’re looking for, the inclusive University that we really want.” 
  • Hardy explained how she would use her first six months on campus. She said her first step would be getting to know the University and going on “listening tours” which involve asking questions and listening to a variety of campus community members to hear about what is working and what is not working on campus. She plans to take what she learns from the community and use that as a starting point to take action. 
    • “It’s important to be visible,” she said. 

What’s next: 

  • The fourth and final candidate will present next week on April 7. 
  • UNC community members can fill out feedback forms for each candidate as they become available.

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