Lahey wants black diversity director

Matt Busekroos

President John Lahey specified his desire to hire a “high quality African-American” for the associate director of student diversity programming position at last Wednesday’s Student Government Association meeting.

Lahey said the university is still looking for the associate director of student diversity programming to work alongside recently-hired Diane Ariza, associate vice president of academic affairs and chief diversity officer.

“We could fill that position tomorrow if we wanted to but we very much want, now that we have a Hispanic in the case of the chief diversity officer [Ariza], an African-American for that particular position,” Lahey said at the meeting. “Even though there are more diverse, different groups that the [associate director of student diversity programming] works with, we think having that person be an African-American is very important to concluding that search.”

In response to an e-mail from the Chronicle, Vice President for Public Affairs Lynn Bushnell would not comment specifically on Lahey’s words, but said that Quinnipiac is working to increase diversity on campus and in the administration.

“It is an ongoing challenge and one all of us takes extremely seriously,” Bushnell said. “In recent years, we have had some success in diversifying the composition of our board of trustees, student population and faculty. As yet, we have had less success in diversifying the administrative staff, so we are taking steps to increase diversity among the staff, particularly at the most senior levels. There are several recently created positions that should enable us to make further strides in this area. Doing so takes time, and a lot of effort. I hope students will join all of us in doing everything we can to make this an open and inclusive community.”

On Tuesday, Ariza told the Chronicle she wants to believe she was hired “not because I was Latina, but that I was the most skilled.”

“And if I happen to be Latina,” she said, “then good for everybody.”

Ariza said the university has a responsibility to be thoughtful in properly representing different types of people through faculty and administration.

The university is also creating the position of vice president of human resources, Lahey said at the SGA meeting, whose responsibilities include the recruitment of all faculty, administration and staff. Lahey believes this position will be “successful,” especially with the addition of a “high quality African-American” for the open position of director of student diversity programs.

“We are all qualified,” Ariza said. “Even to say ‘qualified’ is undermining that all of us are qualified. We just want to hire the best person.”

Junior Jameson Cherilus attended the SGA meeting and expressed relief in Lahey’s words.

“Words cannot explain how extraordinary I feel that President Lahey is making a conscious effort to increase the number of African-Americans at high level positions at Quinnipiac,” said Cherilus, former Class of 2012 president. “I can finally walk around this campus now with my head up a little bit higher knowing that we will have a total of two high-quality blacks working at high level positions.”

Ariza recognized that the university is committed to diversity, but said they need to be more aggressive in how they bring about recruiting and hiring a diverse staff and faculty.

“These positions sometimes get stigmatized as a racial position and you want to be supportive of diversifying racially,” Ariza said. “I know [Lahey] wants people being effective. He wants effective leaders. If he can get greatness and they happen to be African-American or Latina or Asian then that’s all the better.”