Senior Advisor to the President for Inclusive Excellence


After careful consideration, I have decided to create a new position at our University: Senior Advisor to the President for Inclusive Excellence.  The purpose of this memorandum is to share the rationale for my decision and my expectations for the person who is ultimately selected to serve in this position.

In December 2010, President Votruba established a Campus Diversity Plan Task Force.  He charged this task force with developing a comprehensive, university-wide diversity plan that would be inclusive of all the diversity goals on our campus. 

In May 2011, the Board of Regents adopted the diversity plan produced by this task force.  Thereafter, the plan was also approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education. 

Since then, we have achieved some success in implementing the diversity plan.  Our progress was described in the “NKU Diversity Plan Self-Assessment” report to the CPE in November 2012. 

There is one major recommendation from the task force, however, that has not been implemented.  Specifically, the task force recommended that a position be created so that one person would have primary responsibility to support the University’s diversity efforts.

Based on substantial input from others on campus, I have decided to appoint a Senior Advisor to the President for Inclusive Excellence. 

The term “inclusive excellence” expresses my expectation that our institution will measure success by more than counting the number of faculty, staff, and students we have in different racial or ethnic groups.  Those numbers are important. But in order to be truly “inclusive,” we must expand diversity to include gender, religion, culture, sexuality, geography, socio-economic status, and political and philosophical beliefs.

We must also ensure that everyone, irrespective of these characteristics, has an equal opportunity to be heard in our governance processes, because including different perspectives leads to better decisions.  Moreover, our effectiveness in achieving “inclusive excellence” will contribute directly to our collective obligation to provide an excellent educational experience for all of our students.

·         The Senior Advisor will report to the President, who serves as the University’s chief diversity officer.  The Senior Advisor will serve on the President’s Executive Team and the President’s Cabinet.  The Senior Advisor will also attend meetings of the Dean’s Council, the Student Affairs Senior Leadership Team, and the Administration and Finance Senior Leadership Team.

·         The Senior Advisor shall serve as an institutional change agent and champion for diversity and inclusion by providing broad, integrative leadership in collaboration with campus-wide constituencies. This person will lead conversations, review and recommend policies and processes, and guide the campus to include diversity at the highest level of institutional importance.

·         The Senior Advisor will explore innovative opportunities to infuse diversity and inclusion efforts across campus and actively pursue external funds to support these initiatives. 

·         The Senior Advisor will Chair the President’s Campus Climate Team to provide oversight to advise and guide the implementation of the diversity plan and coordinate university-wide diversity initiatives. The Senior Advisor will also work closely with key stakeholders from across campus, such as: Academic Affairs; Human Resources; Student Affairs; Legal Counsel; Planning, Policy and Budget; University Advancement; Faculty Senate; Staff Congress; Student Government Association; General Education; CITE; Council of Deans; and Council of Chairs.

·         The Senior Advisor will work with those responsible for affirmative action and hiring in HR and its office of Diversity and Employee Relations as all positions to be searched are defined, searches are mounted, and candidates are interviewed.  The Senior Advisor will meet with search committees to insure each member is aware of the responsibility to adhere to the guidelines prepared to generate a diverse pool of candidates.

·         The Senior Advisor, in coordination with the Vice President for Student Affairs, will work closely with the Offices for African American, Latino, LGBTQ, Veterans, Disability Services and other student groups to support co-curricular efforts and provide leadership and support for the appropriate integration of curricular and co-curricular efforts.

·         The Senior Advisor, in coordination with the Provost, will inform some of the most critical diversity issues, such as recruitment, hiring and retention of faculty, staff and administrators; RPT; effective pedagogy; curricular transformation; student learning outcomes; faculty development; and research.

·        The Senior Advisor will provide advanced analysis and use of data to inform diversity initiatives that extend beyond the current metrics. This work shall be supported by Institutional Research and Planning and Performance.

In order to have a better understanding of what I expect from this new leader, please see the proposed job description that I have prepared.  This draft is attached.

The Senior Advisor will not “do” diversity alone.  Rather, this person will act as a campus-wide voice and provide broad leadership, collaboration, and coordination.  An inclusive campus culture is everyone’s responsibility, including mine.


Geoffrey S. Mearns
Northern Kentucky University
Nunn Drive
800 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Phone: 859-572-5123
Fax: 859-572-6696