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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

A timeline of the recent turnover within Quinnipiac’s diversity ranks

Peyton McKenzie

Upon her resignation earlier this month, Sarah Hellyar, Quinnipiac University’s then-interim Title IX coordinator, joined a growing number of Quinnipiac diversity administrators whose titles now contain the word “former.”

In the last 12 months, six key diversity officials have left Quinnipiac — and it is still not entirely clear why.

Here is a full timeline of the recent string of departures affecting Quinnipiac’s diversity ranks:

JAN. 10, 2023

Quinnipiac kicked off 2023 in much the same way it did 2024: with a Title IX coordinator staffing update.

Don Sawyer, then-vice president for equity, inclusion and leadership development, announced via email on Jan. 10, 2023, that Title IX Coordinator Dennis Kwarteng was leaving Quinnipiac at the end of the month “for another professional opportunity.” Kwarteng is now the Title IX coordinator at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Hellyar, who had served as Quinnipiac’s sole civil rights and Title IX investigator for more than a year, was named interim coordinator.

Sawyer said the university intended to have “a new Title IX coordinator in place by July 1, 2023.”

JAN. 23, 2023

Less than two weeks after announcing Kwarteng’s resignation, Sawyer himself became the subject of a “transition” email.

President Judy Olian announced in late January that Sawyer would resign at the end of the academic year to accept a position at nearby Fairfield University. 

Sawyer, who had served as Quinnipiac’s chief diversity official since 2019, now serves as Fairfield’s inaugural vice president of diversity, inclusion and belonging.

“Don will be missed,” Olian wrote in the Jan. 23 email. “I congratulate Don for this new opportunity and for all he has accomplished in his 11 years at Quinnipiac.”

JULY 2023

A slew of administrative movements occurred when the new academic year began in July 2023.

With Sawyer’s departure official as of July 1, Olian on July 5 appointed Wayne Gersie, Michigan Technological University’s inaugural vice president of inclusion, to succeed him as Quinnipiac’s vice president of equity and inclusion.

Gersie took over as the university’s chief equity officer on July 31.

Daymyen Layne resigned as the university’s director of multicultural education around the same time. Layne, who had served in the role since 2019, left Quinnipiac to accept a position as The Hotchkiss School’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Claude Mayo, Quinnipiac’s director of academic integrity, is serving as the interim director of multicultural education in Layne’s absence , according to his LinkedIn profile. 

DEC. 1, 2023

Veronica Jacobs, associate director of multicultural education, subsequently announced her decision to step away from Quinnipiac in early December.

Jacobs, who had recently returned from parental leave, told students in a Dec. 1 email that she was leaving to “focus on my health and my family.”

DEC. 7, 2023

Just over a week before the end of the fall 2023 semester, Olian announced via email that Gersie — Sawyer’s successor as chief diversity official — would not be returning for the spring semester due to “personal reasons.”

Gersie, who Olian had tapped as the university’s vice president for equity and inclusion just five months earlier, left Quinnipiac at the end of December to return to Michigan Tech.

David Fryson, a former college diversity administrator at Brandeis University and West Virginia University, replaced Gersie on an interim basis in January.

The university will launch a search for a permanent vice president once “the complete equity and inclusion team has been assembled,” Olian wrote.

In the same Dec. 7 email, Olian announced a complete overhaul of Quinnipiac’s former Department of Global and Cultural Experience. 

By restructuring DCGE, Olian wrote, the university is hoping to “enable singular focus on equity and inclusion on the one hand, and on international students and global education on the other.”

The newly reorganized Office of Inclusive Excellence, unlike DCGE, does not oversee global education or international student affairs. Study abroad programming is now a function of the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Student Affairs now oversees international students.

JAN. 23, 2024

On the second day of the spring 2024 semester, Hellyar resigned as interim Title IX coordinator.

Fryson announced in a Jan. 23 email to the Quinnipiac community — just his second university-wide communication as interim vice president of equity and inclusion — that Hellyar had left the university “for another professional opportunity.”

Hellyar’s LinkedIn profile confirms she accepted a position as Antioch University’s Title IX coordinator.

When Hellyar became the interim coordinator last January, Sawyer said the university planned to install a new Title IX coordinator by July 2023. 

And although Quinnipiac posted the position on its job openings page as early as March, university officials never named a permanent coordinator. Accordingly, Hellyar served as both the interim coordinator and the Title IX investigator for last year of her tenure. 

However, Fryson wrote that the university is “concluding a national search for the permanent Title IX coordinator.” Brittany Swett, a Title IX professional from Aleta Law, will serve as the interim coordinator in the meantime.

Swett previously worked as a Title IX investigator and prevention specialist at the University of New England. The Maine-based lawyer has an “extensive background in conducting Title IX, civil rights compliance, and workplace investigations,” according to her Aleta Law profile page.

Fryson’s email announcing Hellyar’s resignation shares a number of similarities with Sawyer’s January 2023 email announcing Kwarteng’s equally sudden departure. 

That is, despite supposedly being written by two different people more than a year apart, the two emails are nearly identical. Compared side-by-side, the announcements — not including differences in names and pronouns — share more than 90% of their content.

Case in point, both emails describe a “dedicated colleague” who “built wonderful partnerships across (the university/campus) and in the community.” 

Likewise, both Fryson and Sawyer credited the former coordinators with “elevating the importance and visibility of Title IX on our campus,” and each email ends with a request to “please join me in thanking (Sarah/Dennis) for (her/his) service and wishing (her/him) well on the next stage of (her/his) professional journey.”

It is still unknown if any of these six departures are related. But no matter the reason or relation, top diversity officials keep leaving Quinnipiac — and the broader impact of the recent turnover remains to be seen.

This article has been updated to include information about Kwarteng’s current employment.

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About the Contributors
Cat Murphy
Cat Murphy, News Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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