Introducing the Office for Institutional Equity and Inclusive Culture
Dear members of the Drexel community,
I am pleased to announce that, effective immediately, the Office of Equality and Diversity has changed its name to the Office for Institutional Equity and Inclusive Culture — a name that better reflects the expanded scope of the office’s mission and its linkage to the University’s strategic imperative to foster and strengthen an inclusive and equity-driven culture. The office’s new web address is drexel.edu/equity-inclusive-culture (shortened to drexel.edu/eic), and its new primary email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. This message explains the reasoning behind the name change, and the staffing and organizational changes that are accompanying the office’s rebranding.
Why Institutional Equity and Inclusive Culture?
The Office for Institutional Equity and Inclusive Culture (EIC) will continue to fulfill the critical duties of ensuring that the University complies with its own policies and with federal, state and local laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on all protected statuses, and of promoting, supporting and providing resources to sustain a living, learning and working environment in which all members of the University community are valued.
EIC’s new name and mission, vision and guiding principles were developed to acknowledge that over the past two years, this office has increasingly become the central hub of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging strategy for the University. Feedback that emerged from the Anti-Racism Task Force work and the fall 2021 climate survey confirmed that EIC needed to enhance its service experience to the Drexel community through improved advocacy, communication and response times, as well as increased educational opportunities. In response to these identified needs, the University has increased staffing and programmatic resources for EIC so that it can both grow and improve the services it provides to the Drexel community. EIC also continues to critically self-examine its services, review its policies and procedures with an equity lens, and make modifications as an essential part of the growth and enhancement of its services.
In addition, the new name better aligns with the strong commitments Drexel has made to center inclusion as an institutional shared value and make “building a culture of equity” a top strategic priority.
Organizational Changes Within EIC
With EIC’s new name comes some organizational and personnel changes within the office that reflect its stronger connection to Student Success and its enhanced services to the University community. I want to thank Senior Vice President for Student Success Subir Sahu and his team for partnering with us and championing this new direction for the student-facing aspects of our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work.
- EIC has now assumed primary responsibility for the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Spiritual and Religious Life, although it will continue a strong partnership with Student Life in support of the work of both teams.
- Patience Ajoff-Foster has been promoted to Assistant Vice President for Inclusive Culture and Belonging. In addition to her ongoing work toward designing and implementing an integrated vision for all diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, programs and initiatives to support the University’s mission and vision across all campuses, Patience will now also provide leadership and strategic direction to the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Spiritual and Religious Life.
- Shardé Johnson has been promoted to Executive Director for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. In a role that jointly sits within EIC and Student Success, Shardé will continue to provide leadership and oversight for the Center for Black Culture and will now also oversee the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Spiritual and Religious Life, and other relevant student-facing initiatives/events.
- Xavier Johnson has been promoted to Director of Labor Relations and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). Xavier will help ensure that Drexel University operates in a manner that is compliant with all applicable laws related to equal opportunity in the workplace, including updating and reinforcing relevant policies, designing in-house training programs on employment law, and reviewing and helping to mitigate civil rights issues and concerns on campus.
- Assistant Vice President for Equal Opportunity and Title IX Coordinator Paul Apicella and his team will now jointly sit with EIC and Student Success, allowing for greater collaboration and coordination of oversight of Title IX issues.
These changes are borne out of a thorough strategic planning exercise undertaken by the EIC leadership team and out of the University’s overall renewed and strengthened commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. The EIC team is energized by these changes and looks forward to partnering with Drexel’s schools, colleges, administrative units and student body to realize our vision for a stronger, more vibrant, equitable and inclusive Drexel where all feel welcome and valued. Please email EIC with any questions or feedback at email@example.com.
Kimberly J. Gholston
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer