SRU names Chief Diversity Officer

Anthony Jones will help SRU organize numerous diversity initiatives

Published by Joe Wells, Date: October 7, 2021
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Slippery Rock University’s search for a chief diversity officer has come to a close after three months of searching and interviewing.

The university announced Thursday Anthony Jones would become the university’s first chief diversity officer, a newly formed position that be a part of the president’s cabinet.

Jones, the associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Thiel College, was one of three finalists that visited the SRU last month for interviews and presentations.

“Anthony brings a strong academic and professional track record to this new position,” said SRU President William Behre. “I firmly believe that a more diverse, open and inclusive environment creates a richer experience for our entire campus community.

“Adding this key position to our management team reflects our commitment to fostering an academic and campus culture that lives up to our values of diversity and inclusion. And while there have been a lot of initiatives taken by people throughout the University, there is much more to do. It became clear to us that, although it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our campus is diverse and inclusive, we needed the full-time focus of an experienced and dedicated leader to elevate our efforts. I am delighted that Anthony is joining our team.”

In hiring a chief diversity officer, the university said it was looking for someone to act as an “orchestra conductor.”

As chief diversity officer, Jones will be responsible for working with multiple campus and community organizations to advance the university’s goals in global diversity and inclusion.

“I would characterize myself as a compassionate and motivated DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) leader,” said Jones. “My track record has extensive experience in student retention, advocacy, safeguarding culture and finding opportunities to build symbiotic relationships with advocacy groups to drive education and cultural diversity.

“My dedication and commitment to the success of the institutions with which I have worked have allowed me to approach my responsibilities with a focus in alignment with the strategic goals of the institution, the students that attend those institutions, and the communities surrounding them. Throughout my career, I have taken great pride in leading students from all backgrounds in celebrating the cultural differences of their counterparts and educating campus communities on diversity issues through effective training and programs.”

In June, the university set up a search committee of 18 campus members for the position headed by Dennis Washington, vice president of university advancement. Washington said the committee included faculty, staff, a student and administration officials.

“The committee was intentionally inclusive,” Washington said. “We wanted to have as many constituencies represented as possible.”

Washington added that many of the members represented groups across the spectrum, including LGBTQ, veterans and persons with disabilities.

The committee received 40 applicants funneled through from an outside agency, RPA Associates. Of those 40, eight met the university’s criteria of what the categorize as “tier 1 candidates,” according to Washington.

Behre said for high-level positions like the chief diversity officer, they prefer to use an outside agency as it can better screen applicants, allows potential hires to ask questions about the position and shows the university is serious about the position.

All three finalist were moved from the committee to the president for selection last week.

Jones, who has spent the last three years at Thiel College, earned his Doctor of Educational Leadership and policy studies from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) this past May. Jones also earned his master’s in student personnel with a concentration in counseling EKU as well.

Prior to working at Thiel College, Jones served as the director of multicultural student affairs at EKU. At Marietta (Ohio) College, Jones was the director of multicultural affairs.

In addition to those responsibilities, Jones has advised Black student unions, Latino student associations, international student associations and National Pan-Hellenic councils.

“Part of what I do is helping to mentor and guide students through successful college careers that transcend graduation,” Jones said. “As a first-generation college student, I understand the significance of potential and maximizing that potential to better one’s future. I’m always looking forward to meeting and interacting with parents, faculty, and staff, but most importantly students. I believe, without question, that college students are the building blocks that will broaden many horizons domestically and internationally throughout the communities in which we learn and live.”

Joe is a senior communication major with concentrations in converged journalism and digital media production. This is his second year with The Rocket and first as the news editor. With a penchant for asking tough questions, his byline can be found on more than 100 articles for The Rocket including many breaking news and investigative pieces. During the hours he’s not wearing the hat of student journalist, he spends his time as a husband, father and dog owner in Slippery Rock.

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