New Diversity Plan

President's Commissions will be replaced by Advisory Council

By Mary Loftus

In a historic shift for Emory’s diversity initiatives, the President’s Commission for the Status of Women (PCSW), the President’s Commission on Race and Ethnicity (PCORE), and the President’s Commission on Sexuality, Gender Diversity, and Queer Equality (PCSGDQE) are being replaced by an Advisory Council on Community and Diversity in fall 2014.

Under the new structure, the work of the three commissions will be done by committees within each of Emory’s nine schools, which will report to a steering committee made up of staff and faculty whose jobs deal with diversity. The final tier will be an executive committee of senior administrators, including President James Wagner.

Senior Vice Provost for Community and Diversity Ozzie Harris says the increasing complexity of Emory and its array of schools, administrative units, and hospitals made this transition necessary. The new structure, Harris says, will address Emory’s “vision for diversity” and broaden the definition beyond race, sexual identity, and gender to such differences as class, religion, or disability.

PCSW, PCORE, and PCSGDQE were established in 1976, 1979, and 1995, respectively, as volunteer committees to advise the president on diversity issues. The commissions made wide-ranging contributions, from encouraging the university’s statement of regret over its historic ties to slavery, to creating lactation rooms, to initiating the first policies regarding transgender people on campus. Through their efforts, the Center for Women, Office of LGBT Life, and Office of Community and Diversity were created.

Reaction from commission chairs and members was mixed, but hopeful. Felicia Bianchi, cochair of the PCSW, says she sees the main advantages of the new council as “focused funding and the ability to address all of Emory’s diversity needs within a larger group.”

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