Oregon State University provided more details Tuesday about new initiatives aimed at increasing diversity on campus and improving the university’s response to issues of discrimination and sexual violence.
At Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Breakfast, OSU President Ed Ray announced plans to create two new administrative units on campus, the Office of Institutional Diversity and the Office of Equal Access and Opportunity.
In a letter to the campus community on Tuesday, Ray named the people who will lead the new offices.
Angela Batista, the associate vice provost for student affairs and dean of student life, will serve as interim chief diversity officer and oversee the new Office of Institutional Diversity. Batista will lead initiatives in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion on campus and will work with the new Leadership Council for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.
Clay Simmons, OSU’s chief compliance officer, will serve as interim executive director of the new Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. That office will oversee investigations related to discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, affirmative action, and accommodations for people with disabilities.
Those two offices will assume the responsibilities previously handled by the Office of Equity and Inclusion, which is being eliminated. The director of that office, Angelo Gomez, will become special assistant to the president for community diversity relations, a new position aimed at making OSU more responsive to the needs of minority groups around the state. According to OSU spokesman Steve Clark, Gomez will reach out to minority communities around the state to determine what their needs are and how the university can better serve them through academic offerings, research and Extension services.
All three positions will report directly to Ray. The changes will take effect Feb. 1, and the university will launch national searches to find permanent directors of the two new offices.
“Business as usual is not acceptable, and we need to restructure some university-level responsibilities,” Ray said in his letter. “As well, we need to listen to diverse perspectives and experiences throughout OSU while we define and implement our action plans.”
The restructuring comes in response to rising numbers of sexual assault reports and discrimination complaints, including a well-attended forum in November at which 20 students talked about their personal experiences with racism on campus.
The letter also said Provost Sabah Randhawa would chair a committee to monitor the university’s safety and diversity initiatives and that Ray would hold quarterly town hall meetings to discuss “civil and social justice matters and topics of equity and inclusion.”
Finally, the letter also outlined a number of other initiatives that are being pursued on campus, including:
• Requiring online diversity education programs for incoming students starting next fall.
• Asking the Faculty Senate to consider diversity training for faculty and staff.
• Making diversity central to the university’s hiring process.
• Providing 24-hour online services for reporting bias complaints.
• Prominently communicating the university’s expectations for a safe, diverse and inclusive campus.