By Ashlyn Kelly
Students discussed if they would want to expedite the search for a vice president of Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement to have a candidate in place by September even if it meant students were not part of the process during a student listening session April 27.
The meeting was hosted by members of the search committee for vice president of Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement, Catherine Dignam, professor of Chemistry and Food Science, Cara Pina, professor of Biology, John Chenier, assistant dean of admissions, and David Case, area director of West, Peirce, and Horace Mann halls. Lucy Leske, a senior staff member at WittKeiffer, a firm focused on supporting the committee, was also present via Zoom.
Leske said the difference between having the position filled by September or having students be a part of the process would be when the candidates would come to campus. If students wanted to be a part of the process, the candidate would not start in the role until “late October” or November.
“The timeline has been approved and exists with campus finalist visits in September, so that's the current plan,” she said. “We're just canvassing.”
Dignam said, “There wouldn't be the same type of active community as it would be if they were coming to interview in September.”
Dara Barros, SGA diversity and inclusion officer, said, “I'm kind of in-between. I want to see someone as soon as possible in the position, but … this community is engaged. We are going to see all of y'all. We want to ask questions. We want to meet you, want to see what type of person you are.”
Hillary Nna, student trustee, said she was hesitant to “push the process forward” to have someone in the position by September.
Leske asked three other questions of attendees.
The first question was, “What are the challenges, opportunities, and expectations facing the next VP for DICE?”
Barros said one challenge was the “retention of students of color.
“When I came in, my class was one of the classes that had the most - the highest - population of students of color and now, we're all dispersed or transferred or didn’t come back to school,” she added.
Dignam said the committee heard a lot about the new vice president needing to include and engage alumni, “especially alumni of color connect[ing] with students on campus.”
Nna said the new vice president would need to “address the current climate on campus for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities and also our engagement with the Nipmuc community.”
The second question Leske asked was, “What are the characteristics, qualities, and professional credentials you seek in the next VP for DICE?”
Barros said the vice president should be “welcoming.”
She added the candidate should be “able to listen to students and actually understand where we're coming from and work with students.”
Nna said their strengths should be “patience, openness, and willingness.”
Leske’s third question was, “Why should candidates be interested in Framingham State and this role?”
Barros said candidates should be interested because of the “connection” between students.
“This year and last year, we had a difficult year and everyone has been so supportive of each other,” she said.
Barros added they are “going to know a lot of students on campus and everyone has a friendly face.”
Nna asked why there had not been someone appointed to the position in the interim.
Leske said she understood that appointing someone was the “intention” but “it sounds a lot easier than it is.”
She added, “There's a huge competition for very high demand and low supply in the field itself just for permanent people.”