The Opportunity

University of Central Florida (UCF) invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the inaugural position of vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion (VPDEI).

Founded in 1963 to provide talent for Central Florida and the growing U.S. space program, UCF has been making an impact on the state, the nation—and outer space—ever since. UCF is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as Florida’s most innovative university and one of the nation’s top 20 most innovative. Located in Orlando and having secured $204.5 million in research funding in fiscal year 2020, UCF is a dynamic, metropolitan, public research university in one of the country’s fastest-growing regions and holds the Carnegie Foundation’s highest designation in two categories: community engagement and very high research activity. Furthermore, as a testament to its commitment to diversity and serving diverse populations, UCF is also one of 16 universities nationwide designated as both an Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Research 1 University.

In April 2020, UCF welcomed the university’s sixth president, Alexander N. Cartwright, who is committed to leading UCF on a pursuit of excellence to become a new kind of research university that is tightly coupled with its community, is known as a model for inclusive excellence, and is focused on becoming a top-50 public research university.

 

The Position

Role of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at University of Central Florida

The VPDEI will report directly to President Cartwright and serve as a member of his executive leadership team. As such, the VPDEI will lead the development of a comprehensive vision and strategy that champions evidence-based practices and the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the context of a dynamic, multi-campus university with strong local, regional, and national impact. The successful candidate will work with the president and university leaders in realizing UCF’s bold ambition to become the national model for inclusive excellence.

This senior leader will find a substantial history of DEI efforts across the university and will collaborate with the university community to organize institutional accountability, in addition to communicating and reporting the impact and outcomes of DEI initiatives, policies, and programs. The VPDEI will serve as an executive resource and a partner in collaborating with UCF colleagues and local and regional leaders to build an inclusive and engaged culture at UCF by assessing systemic barriers and finding opportunities to share best practices across units and facilitate connections across the university.

The VPDEI’s portfolio will include collaborating with the executive leadership team, faculty and staff leaders, and student and alumni representatives on recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty, staff, and student body; developing meaningful relationships with external DEI and community-engagement partners; integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into UCF’s culture, curriculum, and co-curriculum; and building capacity across the university. Using a data-driven approach, the VPDEI will be responsible for evaluating the institution’s infrastructure, capacity, and operational activities for diversity, equity, inclusion to work toward the optimal balance of centralized and decentralized efforts. The VPDEI currently provides leadership to the five staff members in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Additionally, in January of 2019 UCF was designated as an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). As part of their portfolio, the VPDEI will supervise the director of HSI culture and partnerships and be responsible for articulating a shared vision for initiatives that will strengthen institutional capacity and provide educational opportunities for Latino and low-income students.

History of the Position

Prior to Spring 2019, the university’s office of diversity and inclusion was led by a director. In 2019, the position was elevated to the title of chief equity, inclusion and diversity officer and an interim leader is currently serving in this role. Upon his arrival, President Cartwright announced that UCF would elevate this position to the level of vice president to help drive a culture of inclusive excellence across the university.

 

Opportunities and Challenges of the Role

Among the many opportunities and challenges to be addressed by the vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, the following have been identified by the university community as being of special importance (listed in no particular order):

Serve as a trusted member of the university’s senior leadership team

The successful candidate will report directly to the president, join the senior leadership team, contribute to the university’s strategic decisions, and earn the trust and respect of colleagues across the campus community. In collaboration with deans and colleagues on the president’s cabinet, the VPDEI will ensure that inclusive excellence is interwoven throughout UCF’s policies and strategic initiatives as a core value of the institution. The VPDEI will be expected to pose challenging questions and suggest insightful solutions to difficult topics in order to stimulate the very best thinking among UCF’s leadership.

Develop an organizing framework and lead the adoption of an overarching vision for DEI

The VPDEI will be expected to formulate and articulate a vision around DEI and to provide campus-wide leadership, concrete steps, counsel, advocacy, and a point of connection and communication for achieving it. To this end, the VPDEI will conduct an inventory of existing DEI resources and initiatives in order to identify strengths, gaps, and opportunities and work to bring them together, utilizing an organizing framework that is both evidence-based and mission-aligned.

Lead, represent, and advocate for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI)

The VPDEI will lead, represent, and advocate for ODI within the university community. They will serve as the primary liaison between ODI and the university community, including students, faculty, staff, and senior leaders; develop and communicate the mission and vision of ODI as a resource for the campus community; and guide the design and delivery of educational and training programs to support diversity, inclusion, equal access, equitable treatment, and intercultural dialogue and competency.

Create pathways towards a more inclusive campus community

The VPDEI will be a connector and communicator across campus, building bridges between staff, faculty, and students as well as breaking down silos between and within each group. The VPDEI will have a creative and entrepreneurial perspective, and will enable a strong culture of self-assessment and data-gathering at UCF. The successful candidate will generate ideas and initiatives for assessing, understanding, and improving the campus culture and climate. To this end, the VPDEI will work with campus partners and organizations across all divisions to refine tools and surveys to undertake a holistic review of the campus climate and the effectiveness of campus programs and initiatives. The VPDEI will use this information to determine what resources are needed to create a more equitable and inclusive community.

Strengthen university and public awareness, communication, and community engagement

The VPDEI will serve as an ambassador for UCF, facilitating communication with internal and external stakeholders regarding the messaging of the mission, initiatives, and strategies employed by the university in relation to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The VPDEI will create mechanisms for communicating UCF’s commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence, and its use of an equity lens in strategic planning and decision making. A critical part of the VPDEI’s role will be to enhance community engagement and be seen as a thought leader on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the local Orlando metro area, the Central Florida region, the state, and the nation.

Measures of Success

The vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion will work with President Cartwright and the campus community to determine specific measures of success and their respective timetables. The search committee offers the following general metrics for the position:

  • collaborative relationships and a shared understanding of accountabilities for DEI commitments have been established with key partners and constituencies across campus;
  • a thorough assessment of DEI resources and activities at UCF has been completed and a forward-looking and sustainable organizational structure that strategically positions UCF as a model for inclusive excellence has been proposed and adopted;
  • a comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion framework has been adopted and an accompanying strategic and implementation plan is created;
  • there is increased awareness among the campus community of ODI’s services and the many ways the office supports the university and its constituencies;
  • an intersectional and broad understanding of DEI is evident throughout the university community; and
  • positive relationships and a shared identity, common purpose, and positive team culture have been established within ODI.

Qualifications and Characteristics

UCF seeks an inaugural vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion who is a nationally visible and recognized DEI leader, with substantial experience in administration, strategic planning, and organizational change. The VPDEI will have a documented history of professional and transformative success as a catalyst, convener, and innovator in leading institutional and community stakeholders toward an ambitious and comprehensive DEI vision and strategy. The ideal candidate will have experience with community relations, strategic communications, and fundraising in the context of DEI. The university seeks candidates who have an unwavering commitment to high standards of ethical conduct, transparency, and accountability.

Qualifications include an advanced degree (master’s or above) and significant senior leadership experience in higher education or a similar dynamic environment. Exceptional candidates with a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of ten years of leadership experience in advancing DEI initiatives in a complex environment with multiple stakeholders will be considered.

Additionally, campus stakeholders indicated that the vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion should ideally be one who:

  • has experience shifting organizational cultures;
  • is oriented towards action;
  • can articulate a vision for the university diversity officer of the future;
  • is genuinely student-centered and committed to student success;
  • can communicate with multiple stakeholders and constituencies with ease and authenticity;
  • is comfortable holding colleagues accountable while providing support; and
  • builds and nurtures relationships with ease.

Overview of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Mission

The mission of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) is to collaborate with the UCF community to advocate for and educate about the university’s goal of becoming more diverse and inclusive.

Vision

The vision of ODI is to position UCF as a center of excellence that is nationally recognized as a higher-education model for its diversity and inclusion practices, policies, and culture.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established in 1994 to support the University of Central Florida’s strategic goal of becoming a more inclusive and diverse community. The office strives to make diversity and inclusion visible, critical elements that indelibly permeate the life and values of the UCF community. The office plays an important role in support of the UCF Collective Strategic Impact Plan.

ODI staff members offer education, training and support services, facilitation of cross-campus collaboration, and enterprise-wide leadership to the campus and community to build an inclusive culture for all students, faculty, and staff.

Office of Diversity and Inclusion Highlights

  • Facilitate collaboration across the UCF campus and community through multiple committees and partnerships.
  • Organize campus-wide engagement events on a broad range of diversity, inclusion, and equity topics, including the annual UCF Diversity Week celebrations and events.
  • Facilitate over 400 workshops on more than 120 topics annually.
  • Lead the UCF Hispanic Initiatives effort.
  • Manage professional-development and student-development programs such as the Leadership Empowerment Program for members of the UCF faculty and staff; the LEGACY Leadership and Mentoring Program for students, which focuses on scholarship, identity development, leadership, career development, and community service; CREAR Futuros mentoring program for Latino students; SEED; and the UCF Summer Faculty Development Conference diversity track on curriculum transformation.
  • Engage campus leadership through the president’s and provost’s councils and a multitude of committees.

Institution & Location

Institutional Overview

Institutional background and history

The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university built to make a better future for its students and society. Founded in 1963 to provide talent for Central Florida and the growing U.S. space program, UCF has been a dynamic and forward-looking university ever since. UCF aims to solve tomorrow’s greatest challenges through a commitment to academic, inclusive, and operational excellence. Leveraging innovative learning, discovery, and partnerships, the university fosters social mobility while developing the skilled talent needed to advance industry for the region, state, and beyond.

UCF is ranked as a best-value university by Kiplinger, as well as one of the nation’s most affordable colleges by Forbes. Through its 13 colleges, UCF offers more than 230 degree programs on its main campus, downtown campus, hospitality campus, health sciences campus, and at 11 UCF Connect centers throughout the region. In addition, UCF extends its reach to communities in and beyond Central Florida by offering fully online programs leading to bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, certificates, and more. UCF confers more than 16,000 degrees each year and benefits from a diverse faculty and staff, who create a welcoming environment and are dedicated to creating opportunities, growth, and success for its diverse student body of approximately 72,000—more than 47 percent of whom are members of underrepresented minority groups.

UCF is an academic, partnership, and research leader in numerous fields such as optics and lasers, modeling and simulation, engineering and computer science, business, public administration, education, hospitality management, healthcare, and video game design. In addition to being recognized as one of the best national universities in 2020 by Washington Monthly, UCF consistently appears in U.S. News and World Report’s best college rankings. Academic programs that regularly rank among the top in the nation include the following:

  • Number one graduate game design program in North America in 2020, according to The Princeton Review and PC Gamer
  • Number two emergency and crisis management graduate program in the nation in 2020, according to S. News & World Report
  • Number four hospitality school in the world, according to CEOWORLD magazine
  • Number five nonprofit management graduate program in the nation in 2020, according to S. News & World Report
  • Ranked among the top 30 cybersecurity programs in the nation, according to org

UCF offers a vibrant residential-life program and campus community with an array of student services, more than 650 student clubs and organizations, and dedicated academic resources to help students succeed in school and as alumni. Home to a 45,000-seat football stadium and a 10,000-seat arena, UCF hosts a variety of concerts, shows, NCAA sports, and cultural events. UCF is also one of Central Florida’s largest and most-inclusive employers, with more than 12,000 faculty and staff representing 36 countries. With an operating budget of $1.8 billion, the university adds nearly $8 billion in value to the economy. The Orlando Sentinel ranks UCF as one of the region’s Top 100 Companies for Working Families.

UCF Facts 2020-21: https://www.ucf.edu/about-ucf/facts/

 

Orlando, Florida

A dynamic and diverse place to work and live, Orlando has been described by Forbes magazine as one of “the next big boom towns in the U.S.” The city proper is home to approximately 280,000, while the metropolitan area’s population is around 2.5 million. Much more than a worldwide tourist destination, the city is a center for life sciences, medical innovation, and the creative, technology, and hospitality industries. It was ranked No. 6 on Forbes’ 2018 list of best cities for future job growth and is the fastest growing of the 30 largest regions in the U.S. Fast Company magazine has included Orlando in its list of “Best Cities for Innovation.” All that, combined with the sunshine and warm climate, create a perfect environment to live, work, and explore.

From its dynamic downtown to its eclectic neighborhoods and wide-open nature reserves, Orlando offers more reasons to explore than one might initially imagine. And with 236 days of sunshine to enjoy, it is no surprise that so many UCF alumni choose to stay in the region after graduation.

Tourism, conventions, and trade shows are the main basis of the city’s economy. Manufacturing (especially of aerospace and missile systems), high-technology industries, and the citrus industry are also important.

Mission Statement

The University of Central Florida is a public, multi-campus, metropolitan research university that stands for opportunity. The university anchors the Central Florida city-state in meeting its economic, cultural, intellectual, environmental, and societal needs by providing high-quality, broad-based education and experienced-based learning; pioneering scholarship and impactful research; enriched student development and leadership growth; and highly relevant continuing education and public service initiatives that address pressing local, state, national, and international issues in support of the global community.

Strategic Plan

UCF is a model for higher education in the 21st century, poised to make a better future for our students and society. The university is about to embark on a refresh of its Strategic Plan under the leadership of President Cartwright. Following years of growth, the university will now begin to focus on building the critical infrastructure that will support its pursuit of excellence. UCF will have a national, and in key areas, international reputation as a new kind of metropolitan public research university that is tightly coupled with its community and can work toward quickly becoming a top-50 public national university.

President’s Goals

To guide his first year, President Cartwright has set five goals to lay the foundation for a successful refresh of the university’s strategic plan.

  1. Build a strong leadership team with a focus on improving administrative infrastructure and systems that drive operational excellence, efficiency, and effectiveness.
  2. Invest in academic excellence to drive greater student success and research outcomes.
  3. Deliver action on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and become an example for how a community fully commits to inclusive excellence.
  4. Build a culture of trust, engagement, and accountability that also makes UCF one of the best places to work for our faculty and staff.
  5. Elevate and promote UCF’s excellence and its national reputation through our efforts in advancement, government and community relations, communications, and marketing.

Leadership

Alexander N. Cartwright, President

Alexander Cartwright was selected as UCF’s sixth president by the UCF Board of Trustees on March 20, 2020 following a nationwide search. He was confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors the following week. Prior to joining UCF, Cartwright served as the chancellor of the University of Missouri (MU), with an appointment as a professor in the electrical engineering and computer science department at the MU College of Engineering.

While at MU, Cartwright led the university through strategic enrollment and research growth, as well as the successful completion of the university’s $1.3 billion fundraising campaign. He continuously advocated for student success initiatives, pushed for a more equitable and diverse environment where every voice is heard, and increased efforts to improve engagement with Missourians and beyond.

As a first‐generation college student whose journey to higher education was not traditional, Cartwright understands and prioritizes the need to build successful outcomes for students from all backgrounds. Among his proudest accomplishments from his time at MU is the launch of the Missouri Land Grant program, a commitment to helping students who are Pell Grant eligible by covering their tuition and fees. He has since overseen the launch of programs designed to improve retention and graduation rates as well as post‐graduation outcomes.

Prior to his tenure at MU, Cartwright was at the State University of New York (SUNY), where he served as provost and executive vice chancellor from September 2014 to July 2017. At SUNY, he oversaw a broad portfolio, including academic policy, enrollment management, and more.

An internationally recognized researcher and scholar in the area of optical sensors, Cartwright is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, SPIE, and the National Academy of Inventors. He is a prior winner of both the National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. In addition, he earned the 2002 SUNY Chancellor’s award for excellence in teaching.

A native of the Bahamas, Cartwright holds a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Iowa. He and his wife Melinda have two children, Alyssa and Andrew.

Academic Programs

UCF offers 103 bachelor’s, 91 master’s, 34 doctoral, and three specialist degree programs, and it leads all universities in Florida by conferring more than 17,000 degrees a year.

Top 10 Majors

  • Psychology
  • Health Sciences, Pre-Clinical Track
  • Computer Science
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Nursing
  • Biology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Finance
  • Integrated Business
  • Hospitality Management

The Faculty

Percentage of faculty with and without doctoral degrees:

  • Faculty with Doctoral Degrees: 82%                   (1,391)
  • Faculty without Doctoral Degrees: 18%                      (312)

Percentage of tenured and non-tenured faculty:

  • Faculty Tenured: 44%
  • Faculty Non-Tenured on Track: 18%
  • Faculty Non-Tenured Track: 38%

The Student Body

In Fall 2020, the entering freshman class had an average SAT score of 1320, and the Burnett Honors College enrolled 1,998 students. UCF’s number of incoming National Merit Scholars ranked UCF among the top 25 colleges and universities.

Enrollment by Level

Undergraduate                                                                                             61,456

First Time in College (New Admit | Summer-Fall 2020): 8,125

Transfer (New Admit | Summer-Fall 2020):7,942

Graduate                                                                                                          10,002

Medical Professional                                                                                       490

Total                                                                                                                      71,948

Enrollment by Gender
Men Women Not Specified
Undergraduate 27,595 33,856 5
Graduate 3,917 6,085
Medical 252 233 5
University Total 31,764 40,174 10
 

Enrollment by Race and Ethnicity

White 33,307 46.30%
Latino 19,818 27.50%
Black 7,418 10.30%
Asian 4,622 6.40%
International 3,069 3.90%
Multiracial 2,817 4.30%
Not Specified 698 1%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 107 0.10%
American Indian/Alaska Native 92 0.10%

Benefits Overview

University of Central Florida offers the following benefits to its employees:

  • Health Plans
  • Prescription Drug Plan
  • Dental Plans
  • Vision Plan
  • Health Savings Account
  • Health and Wellness Programs
  • Reimbursement Accounts
  • Life Insurance
  • Other Supplemental Plans

View the 2021 Benefits Guide here

Application & Nomination

UCF has retained Spelman Johnson to assist with this search. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled; complete applications received by Monday, April 12, 2021, will be assured priority consideration. 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 forwarded to Michel Frendian at mrf@spelmanjohnson.com or Jim Norfleet at jmn@spelmajohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the UCF website at www.ucf.edu, and visit the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website at diversity.ucf.edu.

As an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, UCF encourages all qualified applicants to apply, including women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and members of traditionally underrepresented populations. UCF’s Equal Opportunity Statement can be viewed at: http://www.oie.ucf.edu/documents/PresidentsStatement.pdf. As a Florida public university, UCF makes all application materials and selection procedures available to the public upon request.

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.