Interim chief diversity officer appointed

[Courtesy of Millie González.]

After a nationwide search for a new chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, Millie González has been appointed in an interim capacity.

After Sean Huddleston, former chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, left his position, González co-chaired the search committee for Huddleston’s replacement.

According to University President F. Javier Cevallos, interviews were conducted and two prospective candidates were brought to campus for open forums. The position was offered to Joan Iva C. Fawcett, who declined and accepted a position at another school.

González said, “We ran the search. We had some wonderful candidates on campus. We offered the position to one candidate, which we were very excited about, and unfortunately, she decided to take another position.

“It’s a challenging position. It’s a very competitive position. So, we were like, ‘OK, we just have to wait and do the search again,’” González said.

She added, “We decided we would re-run the search in December. … We wanted to make sure we had student input and faculty input, so that was the plan. Then, one morning, the president calls me in and he offers me the position.”

González said in two years, she will chair a committee to fill the position permanently.

Dale Hamel, executive vice president, said re-running the search wasn’t necessary because there was already someone on campus qualified for the position “because of her experience with specifically this community and the ability to do her job. I think, in many ways, her familiarity with the initiatives we have ongoing was certainly a benefit. To be frank, she was the best candidate.”

Cevallos said, “Sometimes, you realize you have the people on campus with the talent, and I asked her if she would take on the position for the next two years. I think she has all the experience, qualifications and connections to be an excellent addition to the executive staff.”

He added the chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement position was created when he came to FSU and decided the position would be one that reports directly to him.

González said although her work has always involved diversity and inclusion, she was not expecting to be offered this position. “I was not prepared for that. … I was quite humbled by that.”

González has worked at FSU since 2007 in the Whittemore Library. Until her appointment, she was the emerging technologies and digital services librarian.

During her time working in the library, she established the Whittemore Library’s Diversity Advisory Committee (LDAC), which aimed to help support students on campus who are underrepresented. This included writing a grant that brought assistive technology to campus for students with disabilities, said González.

In her new role, González said she hopes she can be a resource to her team as well as faculty, students and staff.

She said her plans are to continue to integrate the work of the University’s strategic plan into her department. “The other thing is that I have a wonderful foundation to work off of. We have a strategic plan. My goal is to tweak certain things and build in programs and policies in place to go to the next level.”

She added an important aspect of the strategic plan is to work “intentionally” to further diversity and inclusion efforts at FSU.

She said one priority of the department is to conduct a campus climate survey. “We haven’t had a climate survey for faculty and staff. … So right now, it’s really important to find out how everyone is doing. One initiative on the immediate horizon is a climate change survey.”

She added, “The other thing I am concerned about is data overall. So, I want to make sure we all have the data we need to make decisions and to make everything as transparent as possible so [a student] will be able to access that data.

“This fall semester, I have a list of things I want to do. One of the most important things I need to do is go around on a listening tour, talk to many people, to address what challenges we have as an institution and then prioritize them. … I want to be as open as possible,” she said.

González said one of her priorities is to make cultural competence training available for all faculty and staff. There is already a training in place for faculty, but her focus will be “effectively” holding the training for staff members and new hires.

She added, “How do you ingrain that in the culture so that when someone gets hired, they have training available? It’s sort of an operational thing.”

González said an issue she wants to “tackle” is diversity, inclusion and social justice in the curriculum at FSU, specifically pertaining to the diversity minor. “Hopefully within two years, it will be updated.

“I would like to work with faculty to start the conversation on what can we do to assess the existing diversity minor and determine if it is helping students get the knowledge they need to work in a diverse workforce,” she said.

González added, “My focal point is to help students in whatever way that I can, so if we need to get more scholarships for students, I’ll partner with whoever I can to pitch that we have a need here and hopefully, we’ll get some scholarships.”

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