Pacific University began its search for the first Executive Director of Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDEDI) last May when the University Diversity Committee began recommending changes to the position to president of Pacific Lesley Hallick.
After Sifting through over 100 applications, calling the top 10 prospects and bringing the four final candidates to campus for open forums and face-to-face interviews with the administration, stakeholder groups and the search committee, the university is finally, one year later, preparing to name a person to the EDEDI position.
According to Pacific’s website, the main responsibilities of the new EDEDI will be to “create a shared vision for excellence, care for a diverse community through advocacy and pursue justice through shared responsibility.”
Though Pete Erschen, interim co-director for equity, diversity and inclusion, said the job entails much more.
“The most challenging part of the position is that people are looking to this person to be a leader for our campus equity and diversity initiatives,” Erschen said. “We have a lot of good work going on by a lot of people. However, their efforts aren’t necessarily unified or coordinated, so that creates a challenge.”
According to Erschen, the literature for the EDEDI position went through a rigorous determination process that involved the University Diversity Committee, the President’s Cabinet, and other faculty and students on campus. It was finally approved in February.
In February, the university decided to double the salary of the EDEDI position and also double the EDEDI’s office budget. Starting on April 27 and lasting through May 9, Pacific brought the final four candidates for the EDEDI position to both the Hillsboro and Forest Grove campuses to participate in open forums with faculty and students, as well as interviews with search committee members.
At these open forums, students and faculty had the opportunity to raise concerns to candidates and ask questions about what their plans would be if named to the position.
“I think students express some hope for this position, that having some leadership will help,” Erschen said. “I also think they expressed some sadness that it hasn’t happened yet.”
According to Erschen, students raised similar concerns at these open forums as the faculty did at theirs.
“A lot of faculty are looking at how this person might provide some leadership around the curriculum,” Erschen said. “In the most recent accreditation report, they were given some feedback that the college needed to work more on its standards about diversity in the curriculum. I think faculty are wondering how this individual might contribute to that need.”
According Erschen the search committee is almost ready to send its final recommendation for the EDEDI position to Hallick.
“We are going to talk about the strengths and challenges each candidate will have in meeting the job description,” Erschen said, “That is going to be our report to Hallick based on what we’ve heard on feedback from students, faculty and staff.”
The EDEDI will begin work toward the beginning of summer on July 1.