President F. Javier Cevallos announced in an email to faculty and staff that Sean Huddleston, chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, will leave his position to be the vice president for equity and inclusion at the University of Indianapolis.
According to Cevallos, Huddleston will stay until the end of the semester, and the administration hopes to start the search process for a replacement soon and hire by August.
Huddleston said in an email his family is originally from Detroit and most of his family still lives in Michigan, which “in many ways” influenced his decision.
“While we originally had plans to be in Massachusetts long-term, I think we underestimated how the distance would impact us. Our time here has been amazing though, and we expect to come back and visit frequently,” said Huddleston.
Since coming to his position in 2015, Huddleston said he is “so proud of all the work” he has accomplished.
“The Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) was called the Multicultural Center when I first arrived, but I wanted to change the name to better reflect it as a place where students could find, strengthen and use their voices in a way that inspired them to see themselves and others in the most powerful ways possible,” he said.
Huddleston said working with students “was a very high priority for me coming into the job two years ago.”
The Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement worked to create the groups Brother to Brother (B2B) and M.I.S.S., along with partnering with the Black Student Union, to focus on creating a sense of belonging and improving outcomes for students of color. Huddleston also worked on the 100 Males to College program.
Kevin Peña, a junior and finance chair for B2B, said working with Huddleston helped him grow as a leader and individual.
“He was the man that helped bring B2B together and allowed us to become a brotherhood. Even though things won’t be the same without him, the initiative he helped us start will continue to grow due to the foundation he helped us set,” Peña said.
Huddleston’s work supporting LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff through introducing a preferred name policy and expanding gender-inclusive restrooms was also something he said he was “very proud of.”
Jackson Stevens, a junior and previous intern for the CIE, said he views Huddleston as a “mentor.”
He added, “His remarks after our Hope in Action rally have left a great impact on me. He will be truly missed on campus.”
Jace Williams, a junior, said they met Huddleston when they began working at the CIE, adding he has “been incredibly helpful on this campus.
“One time I went into a meeting with him, and he asked me my opinions on gender identity and preferred name forms, and it felt great to know that someone cared about what I had to say,” Williams said.
Cevallos said Huddleston has been “an asset for this institution” and his concept of inclusive excellence has been embraced by the FSU community.
“I’m happy for him because he’s done a really tremendous job for us here,” he said.
Cevallos said Huddleston has been active in bringing inclusiveness to campus.
When he first met Huddleston, Cevallos said he had “a lot of energy and a very clear plan of what to do and how to do it. … I was impressed with his clarity of thought, his understanding of the issues and, of course, his whole inclusive excellence approach.”
Before he leaves, Huddleston said he plans on seeing through events such as the Women Making History Now Awards in March and the commencement ceremony in June.
“I also just want to make sure that the division is in good shape for a smooth transition to the next person, so that the work that needs to continue will be able to do so without interruption,” he said.
As for his successor, he said they will bring their own ideas and plans.
“I hope that person falls in love with Framingham State University the way that I did, and their vision includes some of the work that has already been started. … They will benefit from a campus community that has embraced achieving inclusive excellence as a strategic priority,” he said.