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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

President proposes Chief Diversity Officer position

On Monday, Jan. 19, NMU President Fritz Erickson, along with acting Provost Lesley Larkin, announced the intention for a new administrative position in an email to NMU faculty and staff. The position, currently referred to as the Chief Diversity Officer, is intended to promote and organize diversity on-campus.

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“At NMU, we have a number of excellent students, staff and faculty members hard at work on diversity issues,” Larkin said. “The Chief Diversity Officer will support and extend their efforts. A powerful advocate for diversity as a central component of a healthy university community, the Chief Diversity Officer will assist us in creating and maintaining a diverse faculty, staff and student body.”

President Erickson said that the Chief Diversity Officer will be in charge of coordinating diversity efforts made by students, faculty and staff at NMU as well as providing a strategic plan to put diversity and inclusion at the front of the university’s operation.

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Currently, no single position exists to oversee the role of diversity within NMU’s administration, however; President Erickson voiced his support for a single officer to supervise diversity

“I’ve always said that when something is everyone’s responsibility, it’s actually nobody’s job,” Erickson said. “I think that’s the case at NMU right now. We’re all charged with advancing diversity and inclusion efforts, but we need someone whose job it is to lead that charge and coordinate the ideas and work.”

Dr. Larkin said that the new position will create a community where everyone can succeed through resources and experience provided by diversity and inclusion.

“This includes opportunities to learn from peers, professors and staff members from a wide variety of backgrounds, as well as opportunities to learn about history, politics, culture, science, trades and professions from multiple perspectives and through multiple lenses,” Larkin said.

ASNMU President Katerina Klawes said that the position of Chief Diversity Officer will be centered on both the administration and the student body to help provide new perspectives and advocates for the university.

Klawes said that there have been several studies within the field of education which show a correlation between the number of people a student identifies with and their likelihood to stay at that university.

“I think this is a topic campuses are having everywhere,” Klawes said. “I think that diversity is central to a well-rounded education, especially when our campus is located in a rural area where we don’t have a lot of diversity. It makes that need so much more strenuous.”

Klawes first heard about the new position during a meeting at the President’s Roundtable at the beginning of this year. Since then, she has been voicing support for the position and has made recommendations to President Erickson for the Chief Diversity Officer.

“I wholeheartedly support the creation of a position for the Chief Diversity Officer,” Klawes said. “I think that it could provide a lot of perspective to our campus and I think that it can make our campus community overall more well-rounded.”    

The President’s Committee on Diversity is currently establishing a group to examine the necessary steps for creating the position and make recommendations for the search of candidates. With the process for creating the position beginning, Larkin said more details about the Chief Diversity Officer are going to unfold.

President Erickson said that new programs may have to be created and old policies changed for the Chief Diversity Officer to be able to bring diversity and inclusion to the forefront of the university.

“I hope this person brings excitement, joy and celebration to our successes in the work we do to create a diverse and welcoming environment for all members of the NMU Nation,” Erickson said. “Learning to appreciate our differences, in the way we do our similarities, should be celebrated because it makes us more open and engaged citizens of the world.”

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