Roger Williams University (RWU or Roger Williams) invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the position of vice president for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.
With campuses on the coast of Bristol and in the heart of Providence, R.I., Roger Williams University is a forward-thinking private university committed to strengthening society through engaged teaching, learning, and scholarship. At RWU, small classes, direct access to faculty, and guaranteed opportunities for real-world projects ensure that its multi-generational community of learners—4,000 full-time undergraduates along with hundreds of law students, graduate students, adult learners in degree and non-degree programs—all graduate with the ability to think critically and are equipped with the practical skills that today’s employers demand. Roger Williams is leading the way in American higher education, confronting the most pressing issues facing students and families—increasing costs, rising debt, and job readiness.
Role of the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer for Roger Williams University
Reporting directly to President Ioannis Miaoulis, the next vice president for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer (VPEI-CDO) is charged with shaping, articulating, and enabling RWU’s strategies for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across both campuses of the university (Bristol and Providence). As a member of the president’s cabinet, this senior leader partners with and influences a broad range of internal and external campus stakeholders. The VPEI-CDO advises Roger Williams’ senior leadership and Board of Trustees on the adoption of strategies that actively support an anti-racist, diverse, and inclusive campus community. To this end, the VPEI-CDO works collaboratively with the cabinet to establish systems of accountability and evaluation, including the continuous monitoring and improvement of institutional DEI goals, using data-informed metrics to measure success and ensure that initiatives are substantively and authentically aligned with RWU’s mission, vision, and core values.
The VPEI-CDO’s scope of responsibility spans the entire university, collaborating with the provost, school deans, academic and administrative departments, and student representatives on enhancing efforts across units of the university through the review and evaluation of current and emerging DEI strategies, programs, practices, and policies. The VPEI-CDO manages and provides leadership to a team of three direct reports (a director of institutional DEI, an administrative assistant, and a DEI graduate institutional research assistant) and five additional indirect reports within the Intercultural Center.
History of the Position
The VPEI-CDO role was established in June 2017 as part of Roger Williams University’s broader strategic planning efforts. The inaugural VPEI-CDO established the division of equity and inclusion and led a highly collaborative and transparent process that resulted in the crafting and approval of RWU’s 2020-2022 Equity Action Plan. The incumbent accepted an advancement opportunity in August 2020. The university and the division are well positioned to build on the successes of the past four years and eager to welcome RWU’s next VPEI-CDO.
Opportunities and Challenges of the Role
The vice president for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer must be a seasoned and enthusiastic champion of DEI work in the context of higher education. It is important that the VPEI-CDO be an experienced leader with the capacity to manage complex issues, committed to anti-racism at the highest level, and equipped to contribute at both a strategic and operational level.
Within this context, there are several aspects of the VPEI-CDO role in which the successful candidate will need to lead after a period of acclimatization and relationship building. These include:
- The new VPEI-CDO is joining a strong and collegial cabinet; all members are respected and experienced leaders in their own right. The president and all cabinet colleagues seek a thought partner to engage with them on moving Roger Williams University towards becoming an actively anti-racist and equitable community.
- There are high expectations that the new VPEI-CDO will exemplify a culture of collaboration and partnering, as a clear and transparent communicator and uniter, across all schools of study on both campuses. It will be crucial that the new VPEI-CDO act as a ‘chief connector’ by quickly reaching out to all constituencies across the various campus locations to build solid and mutually beneficial relationships that support positive momentum on the Equity Action Plan and also support the president and his leadership agenda.
- The VPEI-CDO will be expected to form a cohesive divisional team that has a shared understanding of RWU’s DEI priorities, their individual contributions, and responsibilities of each of the functional areas within the division. The VPEI-CDO will find a dedicated team that is ready to support their leadership and responsive to professional development and coaching.
- The VPEI-CDO will find a campus that is genuinely proud of and invested in the existing Equity Action Plan. Indeed the VPEI-CDO will join a campus ready for an action phase and, therefore, will be expected to act with urgency and familiarize themselves with the 202o-2022 action plan and ensure that the university stays focused on implementing its stated goals and priorities.
- The VPEI-CDO will partner with enrollment management, academic affairs, and student affairs colleagues to refine and deepen institutional planning for DEI work to build even further on RWU’s recent successes in the recruitment, admission, retention, and graduation of a diverse student population.
- RWU staff and Human Resources team members are enthusiastic about partnering with the new VPEI-CDO on expanding the current professional development opportunities for staff and on strengthening the university’s existing Affirmative Action plan. It should be noted that there are five existing staff and faculty unions at Roger Williams, and the VPEI-CDO will need to invest in becoming familiar with each of the collective bargaining units as part of their onboarding.
- The VPEI-CDO will be expected to establish formal communications and a collaborative relationship with RWU’s Title IX coordinator.
- The VPEI-CDO must actively engage with students and alumni in an authentic manner, be highly visible throughout the campus, and be regarded as a role model, exemplifying what it means to be a fully-engaged member of the campus community. As with many institutions, the retention and graduation of students is a top priority and, therefore, holistic attention must be paid to the experience of students not only during the enrollment cycle, but well beyond as they enroll, transition, and progress to graduating and becoming engaged alumni.
Measures of Success
The vice president for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer will work with President Miaoulis to determine specific measures of success and their respective timetables. The search advisory committee offers the following general metrics for the position:
- The VPEI-CDO will be seen as a proactive, highly visible, well-respected, and established leader on and off campus who is credible, collegial, and highly effective.
- The VPEI-CDO will partner with President Miaoulis and their colleagues on the President’s Cabinet to continue the implementation and evaluation of the 2020-22 Equity Action Plan. The VPEI-CDO will be expected to demonstrate transparency, a willingness to collaborate with all internal and external stakeholders, and to provide vision, leadership, and accountability in this process.
- Clarity and consensus will be affirmed regarding RWU’s anti-racism commitments, priorities, and action items.
- The VPEI-CDO will build effective partnerships and consensus with the Board of Trustees’ new diversity, equity, and inclusion committee.
- The VPEI-CDO will thoroughly and thoughtfully assess the strengths and weaknesses of the division’s operational and personnel infrastructure and develop a set of recommendations to move the division to its next best iteration.
- The VPEI-CDO will become familiar with the various collective bargaining units on campus and identify opportunities for partnership and collaboration with human resources colleagues and other stakeholders to continue to strengthen the Employee Access, Success, and Equity dimension of the Equity Action Plan.
- The VPEI-CDO will have partnered with the Provost and faculty leadership to build on the momentum generated by the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows program.
Qualifications and Characteristics
Roger Williams University seeks candidates whose education, perspectives, and experiences have prepared them to serve in a senior leadership role of the university with responsibility for driving the institutional change needed to support an increasingly diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. The successful candidate will have a nuanced and intersectional understanding of the dynamics of difference, privilege, and power, as well as the enthusiasm, emotional intelligence, tenacity, and acumen necessary to achieve ambitious goals.
The next VPEI-CDO will be a persuasive collaborator and inclusive convener with the ability to build bridges and consensus among faculty, staff, and students. Candidates will be evaluated based on their record of successfully initiating and leading large-scale DEI programs and projects; experiences in strategic planning, data-informed decision making, assessment, and talent development along with demonstrated knowledge of best practices, laws, rules, and regulations that impact the work of a chief diversity officer.
A master’s degree in an appropriate area of specialization, with a minimum of five years of experience leading DEI initiatives in higher education or mission-focused organizations, is required; a terminal degree is preferred. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate a substantive understanding of theories of DEI capacity building and strategy for organizations, as well as professional expertise gained through practice, advocacy, scholarship, and/or research. The search committee is particularly interested in candidates who have a track record of integrating their passion for DEI and leading organizational change in the context of a complex entity such as Roger Williams.
Additionally, for the Roger Williams community, the VPEI-CDO should ideally be one who:
- is adept at moving between the operational and strategic;
- knows how to bring underrepresented and marginalized perspectives forward;
- is able to listen to different audiences and able to connect with a wide variety of stakeholders;
- has the skills and ability to be a convener and facilitator of opposing points of view;
- can influence progress and results through thoughtful negotiation and coalition building;
- has a strong sense of role clarity;
- is a person of action;
- possesses broad leadership skills and is able to nurture leadership within the institution;
- can articulate and operationalize an anti-racist approach to advance DEI goals; and,
- communicates with authenticity and honesty around their own journey in this work.
Overview of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was established in 2017 to serve as a catalyst for institutional DEI commitments, amplifying long-standing efforts across the university community. The 2019-20 academic year institutional planning processes—including the strategic action planning process and Equity Action Plan development—reaffirmed these values and institutional direction. The division comprises the following offices and initiatives:
- Intercultural Center: The Intercultural Center creates transformative, capacity building experiences for minoritized student populations that leverage high-impact practices to close opportunity gaps and help students find success during and beyond their time at RWU. The center houses the following initiatives:
- Multicultural Student Initiatives (MSI): Multicultural Student Initiatives provides support, guidance, and advising to students. In addition to working with students, MSI collaborates with multiple departments across campus and offers a host of programs—student access, success, and equity are at the forefront of MSI programming.
- Queer and Trans Student Initiatives: RWU’s Queer and Student Initiatives works with and supports students to raise awareness and acceptance of the various communities that make up the university’s queer and trans community (for example; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, or questioning communities). Through the Intercultural Center and the Queer and Trans Advocacy Center (QTRAC), it offers direct services and resources for all members of the queer and trans communities and their allies.
- Peer Empowerment, Activism/Advocacy, and Community Engagement (PEACE) Program: PEACE is a community of students who value equity, diversity, inclusion, intercultural learning, community engagement, and social justice activism. The program seeks to build strong leaders who understand the importance of critical social justice literacy and fluency.
The 2020 – 2022 Equity Action Plan
The university’s current Equity Action Plan (EAP) began taking shape with the Thriving RWU 2030 summit in January 2018. The outcomes of the summit were created by five task forces through an iterative process, with feedback at each stage and cross-taskforce conversations. The campus community provided feedback on the draft of the plan in April 2019, followed by feedback from the Board of Trustees in May 2019. Following the incorporation of stakeholder feedback, a soft implementation of critical initiatives such as the Retain, Grow, Advance (RGA) Leadership Academy, the Bias Education group, and other initiatives began, while the formal launch was aligned with the timeline of the strategic action planning process.
The EAP was formally launched on February 21, 2020. In recognition of the rapid demographic and technological changes happening in the external environment, the timeline for the plan is calendar years 2020 – 2022. A detailed matrix has been developed that assigns cabinet members as champions for various action items. Partnering with the myriad agents and drivers of RWU’s success, senior leadership is charged with ensuring that goals are met by embedding them into divisional, departmental, and individual plans to drive progress, as well as supporting capacity building, recognition, and accountability.
The plan is organized around a five-dimensional framework that blends the AACU’s inclusion framework and Daryl Smith’s framework for diversity and inclusion. The five dimensions are Student Access, Success, and Equity; Employee Access, Success, and Equity; Climate and Intergroup Relations; Education, Scholarship, and Service; and Leadership and Infrastructure. The plan’s overarching goal is to create the conditions for transformation by focusing on three key areas:
- Critical Mass: Roger Williams must increase demographic representation in the faculty, staff, and student body and commit to increasing access in order to reach critical mass.
- Capacity Building: To reach and sustain critical mass, all members of the campus community must develop their intercultural fluency through a variety of relevant strategies suited to different stakeholder groups. The plan also focuses on the support, empowerment, and advancement of minoritized students and employees.
- Culture Change: A focus on communication, leadership practices, talent development, resource allocation, institutional policies, and the built environment and accessibility, is designed to drive equity and inclusion at the institutional, and not just the individual, level.
Following a review of research and best practices, metrics have been identified by the task forces that have been translated into an equity scorecard that will be updated and disseminated on an annual basis to the university community. A central part of the scorecard will be the Equity Index, developed by the Center for Urban Education, which focuses on measuring representational equity at every stage of institutional pipelines or processes.
During this past year, there has been a concerted focus on data disaggregation and intersection to support the development of the scorecard, which will help evaluate progress and the impact of interventions.
Download the Equity Action Plan
Roger Williams University was originally founded in 1919 as a downtown Providence regional branch of Northeastern University (Boston, MA). Originally named the YMCA Providence Institute of Engineering and Finance because of its reliance on the Providence YMCA as an extension location, its early focus was on teaching courses in business and law. After a hiatus during World War II and an amicable separation from Northeastern, the institute continued on its own, offering day and evening courses. The tradition of serving a vocational market and a largely underserved population persevered, and in 1956 the institute received a state charter to grant two-year associate degrees under the name “Roger Williams Junior College.”
In 1967, its charter was amended to award bachelor’s degrees, and it was renamed Roger Williams College. By 1969, with increased student enrollment and new educational programs, the college had outgrown its downtown location and relocated most of its operations to 80 acres of waterfront land on Mount Hope Bay in Bristol, RI. In 1992, the college was once again renamed and became Roger Williams University. In 1993, the School of Law was established, and to this day it continues to be Rhode Island’s only law school. In 2015, the university moved its Providence operations to a larger, fully renovated downtown building with the vision of serving a far more expansive community of traditional and non-traditional learners. The recently renamed University College division serves students across a wide array of credit and non-credit programs aimed at helping individuals and communities thrive. And over the last few years, the Providence campus has expanded to also house School of Law and MBA program offerings.
As an educational institution, RWU is inextricably connected to its namesake, Roger Williams, who was a 17th-century leader devoted to freedom of conscience and social justice, and who founded the State of Rhode Island based on those tenets. Roger Williams’ philosophy, and what has been called his ‘lively experiment,’ nurtured the growth of vibrant and open societies. RWU’s pursuit of excellence in education and community service is rooted in his focus on intellectual exchange, freedom of speech, critical thinking, inclusiveness, and innovation as a means of improving and cultivating a free society.
In recent years, RWU has established itself as a private university with a public purpose. Through programs like the Civic Scholars Program, RWU has nurtured civic-minded faculty and students who dedicate their knowledge, skills, and time toward creating meaningful change in partnership with local communities and around the globe. As a result, more than two-thirds of the graduating undergraduate class, and many graduate students, complete at least one semester-long experiential project that empowers students to work on solving real-world problems driven by the expressed needs of community partners.
About Bristol, RI
The town of Bristol is a deep-water seaport in the historic county seat of Bristol County in Rhode Island and is named after Bristol, England. It is situated half an hour from Providence, and an hour from Boston. Until 1854, Bristol was one of the five state capitals of Rhode Island. Major industries include boat building (and related marine industries), manufacturing, education, and tourism. The town of Bristol was lauded by Architectural Digest in 2018 as one of the 25 Best Small Towns in America, and is home to the nation’s oldest Fourth of July celebration.
Bristol serves as the hub for activity in the East Bay region of Rhode Island. Each year, visitors from around the world are drawn to the town for its historical sites, community events, world-class cuisine, and scenic coastline. A prominent boating community, Bristol is also home to miles of pristine coastlines, bike paths, walking trails, beaches, and public parks, and offers residents and visitors boat ramp access and moorings in its protected harbor.
To build the university the world needs now:
- by working with local and global communities to address problems that matter most to society;
- by providing transformative educational experiences in preparing all students to fulfill their potential as lifelong learners, professionals, and citizens;
- by creating a community in which diversity is visible in its population and culture and by implementation of explicit institution-wide practices that advance equity and belonging;
- by meeting the educational needs of a diverse multigenerational community of learners;
- by being financially accessible to all who aspire to a Roger Williams University educational experience;
- by committing to on-going collaborations of education, inquiry, and implementation of sustainable practices which enhance human and environmental well-being on our campuses and within our communities.
“To strengthen society through engaged teaching and learning.”
Roger Williams inspires and educates students to lead fulfilled lives by ensuring they acquire and develop the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind necessary to become reflective, responsible individuals who interact with society in mutually rewarding ways.
A Roger Williams University education is:
- Transformative. RWU is committed to an expansive student-centered experience, characterized by academic rigor, critical thinking, collaboration, and community engagement that enriches students, the university, and the broader society.
- Engaged. RWU promotes collaboration with one another and with constituencies outside the university to promote individual learning and to help address community needs.
- Experiential. RWU provides an educational environment that bridges theory and practice, enhancing the ability of students to fulfill their potential and to contribute to society.
- Inclusive. RWU welcomes and values all expressions of diversity and identity, actively promotes inclusion, and prepares students to challenge societal norms and to thrive in a culturally diverse and global society.
- Innovative. RWU is nimble in developing and piloting changes for the continuous improvement of learning, service, and all other aspects of university life.
Ioannis N. Miaoulis, President
A visionary leader in experiential learning and champion of STEM education, Ioannis N. Miaoulis is the 11th president of Roger Williams University, guiding its mission and commitment to providing an outstanding education through community-engaged learning and civic scholarship.
Miaoulis previously served as president and director of the Boston Museum of Science from 2003 to 2019, introducing more than 1.5 million visitors a year to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. During his tenure, he raised the museum’s profile to an internationally acclaimed STEM education institution through fundraising efforts that included a $50 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies. He led the development of the museum’s National Center for Technological Literacy (NCTL), advancing the knowledge of engineering and technology through K-12 curricula programs that have reached an estimated 200,000 teachers and 18 million students.
An esteemed administrator and innovative educator, Miaoulis began his distinguished career in higher education. At Tufts University, he served as dean of the College of Engineering, associate provost, interim dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and as professor of mechanical engineering. During his leadership at the College of Engineering, he helped raise $100 million for the engineering school and worked closely with students and faculty to more than double its research initiatives, introduce new programs, form professional partnerships within the industry, and significantly increase the number of female students and faculty members. In 2001, he spearheaded an initiative to make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to bring engineering and technology curriculum into its K-12 public school system.
Born in Athens, Greece, Miaoulis graduated summa cum laude from Tufts in 1980. He earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984, a master’s degree in economics from Tufts in 1986, and he received a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Tufts in 1987. He has published numerous research papers, several educational textbooks, and holds two engineering patents.
To learn more about the members of President Miaoulis’ Cabinet, please visit https://www.rwu.edu/who-we-are/president/presidents-cabinet.
The Student Body
RWU Enrollment as of Fall 2020:
- Undergraduate (Bristol degree programs): 3,820
- Undergraduate (University College): 526
- Graduate, law & professional: 878
- Average class size: 18
- Student/faculty ratio: 15:1
Undergraduate Student Population:
- Female: 51 percent
- Students of Color: 17 percent
- First to second year retention rate: 81 percent
- Six-year graduation rate: 69 percent
- Students who receive scholarships and/or need-based aid: 99 percent
- Number of clubs and organizations: 74
- Students who live on campus: 66 percent
- Number of varsity sports: 24 (NCAA Division III, ICSA, IHSA)
Academics is the heart of Roger Williams University. With nearly 50 programs of undergraduate study, over a dozen graduate programs, Rhode Island’s only law school, and a full suite of degree and non-degree programs offered through University College, RWU offers a wide variety of academic offerings all with a commitment to experiential learning. The experiential learning guarantee promises that every qualified undergraduate, graduate, and law student will receive practical, hands-on learning opportunities, while the University College meets professional learners where they are to develop and harness an already skilled workforce.
Roger Williams prepares graduates to launch great careers and lead great lives. The following are highlights of a Roger Williams education:
- By making experiential learning the cornerstone of its education, RWU students graduate with the skills and experiences employers need now.
- By hiring faculty members who are experts in their fields, students learn from the top thought leaders and have the opportunity to collaborate on innovative research projects.
- One hundred (100) percent of classes are taught by experienced faculty members. At RWU, students will not find themselves lost in a giant lecture hall and professors get to know each student by name. It is part of the university’s extremely personalized, community-centric approach to delivering an excellent education.
- Through its eight schools of study, RWU delivers a breadth of liberal arts and professional programs. Students often combine majors and minors in liberal arts and professional studies, and have the opportunity to access expedited master’s programs and dual degrees in law.
- From its backyard to abroad, RWU is immersed in working with local and global communities to help solve problems that matter most to society.
- While keeping costs low for students and their families, RWU continues to invest in state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge computing technology to ensure students have everything they need to succeed.
- Ninety-four (94) percent of students are employed or admitted to graduate programs within six months of graduation. The Center for Career & Professional Development offers career exploration, industry networking events, career fairs, and much more.
Schools and Colleges
- Mario J. Gabelli School of Business
- School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation
- Feinstein School of Social and Natural Sciences
- Feinstein School of Humanities, Arts and Education
- School of Engineering, Computing & Construction Management
- University College
- School of Justice Studies
- School of Law
Review of applications will begin immediately, and continue until the position is filled.
To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Michel Frendian, Search Consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.
Visit the Roger Williams University website at www.rwu.edu.
Learn about Roger Williams’ DEI initiatives at www.rwu.edu/who-we-are/diversity-equity-inclusion
Roger Williams University and Roger Williams University School of Law do not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis in admission to, access to, employment in, and treatment in its programs and activities.
We are sensitive to how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting work and personal lives, and will offer the utmost flexibility throughout the interview process. The search advisory committee expects to conduct initial interviews via Zoom for the safety and well-being of all involved.