Carnegie Mellon University (CMU or Carnegie Mellon) seeks an innovative and experienced leader to serve as its first vice provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion and the university’s chief diversity officer (VP-DEI). This individual will have an extraordinary opportunity to shape and lead diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within one of the most creative and entrepreneurial institutions in higher education.
CMU is a private, global, research-intensive university ranked #25 in 2019 by U.S. News & World Report among national universities, and many of its programs are among the top ranked in the world. In addition to its main campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, CMU has campuses in California’s Silicon Valley, and Qatar, and programs in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York City, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Mexico. Its program areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities, and the arts are supported by approximately 6,300 faculty and staff. Nearly 14,800 students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration, and innovation.
Carnegie Mellon University has long embraced diversity as a core value that is central to and indivisible from the pursuit of intellectual and artistic excellence. For more than two decades, it has made increasing diversity in every constituency and building a supportive and nurturing community strategic priorities. At the same time, this initiative to create the office of the VP-DEI recognizes that we require expertise and resources to achieve our aspirations.
CMU has taken steps to assess and improve our environment. In 2018, President Farnam Jahanian convened the Task Force on Campus Climate and charged it with making specific recommendations to support a more diverse, inclusive, fair, and respectful climate. To achieve this, the task force conducted nearly 75 listening tours, meetings, and town halls involving more than 400 members of the community. In addition, in April 2019, Provost Jim Garrett charged all of the academic units to develop a 5-year strategic plan for DEI with implementation to begin in AY 20-21.
The campus climate task force report, released in November 2019, identified specific concerns from the community and outlined five high-level recommendations and numerous action items to improve the university’s campus climate. The report acknowledged that CMU had not been working strategically on issues of DEI, supported the DEI strategic planning efforts of the academic units, and encouraged a similar effort for the administrative units. It also made a recommendation, among others, to offer more training and education to increase community members’ cultural sensitivity.
In response to the climate task force report, President Jahanian instituted an implementation steering committee to turn the task force’s insights into urgent and meaningful commitments. As the first initiative, the president charged each administrative unit to also develop a 5-year strategic plan for DEI with implementation to follow the same schedule as the academic units. The second initiative is the establishment of the office of the VP-DEI that includes the specification of the mission, responsibilities, resources, span of control, span of support, expected competencies, assessment of, and onboarding plan for the new office.
The creation of the role of VP-DEI reflects CMU’s strong commitment to transform the institution to become a leader in:
- diversifying its community of faculty, staff, and students by attracting and retaining the very best talent;
- creating an equitable environment that allows equal opportunity for success and for all to thrive;
- building an inclusive and antiracist culture that fosters respect for one another, creates belonging, and allows everyone to participate fully in the life of the institution; and
- coordinating DEI efforts across administrative and academic units, creating synergies between them, and accelerating progress towards the university’s highest aspirations for inclusive excellence.
CMU has spent many years studying its challenges in the area of DEI and is now preparing to take strategic action. This inaugural role represents a direct commitment to action and resources to make change happen.