The office of Community, Equity and Diversity (CED) has combined its four diversity commissions into one single body, with the former commissions on the status of women, LGBTQ+ people, people of color and people with disabilities now serving together in a body called the President’s Commission on Community, Equity and Diversity.
Former Associate Vice President for CED Jamie Nolan made the decision to merge the commissions before she left UNH last year to pursue a similar position at Washington State University. Nolan did not respond to requests for comment.
The commissions were brought together as part of an effort to make CED more intersectional in its efforts, and work together on issues that affect multiple identities.
“Jaime Nolan thought we’d better be able to approach challenges together, as issues concerning raced individuals often also dovetail with gender or sexual identity. She thought this move would strengthen the impact of our future decisions, programming, coordination,” interim Associate Vice President for CED Monica Chiu said.
“Finding ways to bring a broader view or identifying intersectionality (e.g., person of color with a disability) and acknowledging the multiplicity of ‘who’ a person is was often difficult,” Michael Shuttic, director of Student Accessibility Services and former co-chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities, wrote in an email. Shuttic is not serving on the commission for CED, but now sits on the Advisory Council for Campus Climate, previously the Task Force on Campus Climate, which was created to address the Black Student Union’s 16 demands following events around Cinco de Mayo in 2017.
The commissions have downsized from about 120 members across all four to about 21 people on the new commission on CED, with five or six student members who the CED office is still working on recruiting. Events planned by the commissions like the annual MLK events in February and the annual LGBTQ+ pancake breakfast will continue to be held despite the merge.
The Commission on CED will be chaired by the new Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) when one is hired. The search for a permanent OMSA director was delayed due to budgeting issues after the departure of former director Sean McGhee last year, Chiu and Administrative Coordinator of CED Janice Pierson, said.
“The biggest challenge was, we weren’t sure that we were going to get an OMSA director. And that’s a huge position that impacts so many students,” Chiu said.
The OMSA director position had originally been “swept,” meaning the position could not automatically be refilled and a rationale had to be given to the university in order to keep the position and begin the hiring process. Chiu said the university was understanding that the OMSA director was an important position to be filled.
The search for a new director will start in January with hopes of the candidate starting by June.
“Most searches for these kinds of positions happen in the spring, and you get a more robust pool if you start at that time. We thought that it would be better to wait to get the best candidate possible rather than just doing it quickly,” Chiu said.
Until a permanent director is hired, OMSA will hire a multicultural coordinator that will start in October and work in the office for at least one year to assist Interim Director Lu Ferrell and Multicultural Coordinator Isaiah Iboko.
Ferrell, who previously served on the Commission on the Status of LGBTQ+ People, will serve on the Advisory Council for Campus Climate this year. Iboko will serve on the Commission on CED.
Ferrell is supportive of the change, but says it may not have happened at the right time, due to the leadership changes.
“Generally, the sense was, over the last year with Jamie, some commissions were struggling more than others and [in regards to] intersectionality, we were not doing the best job that we could,” Ferrell said, “The problem was the time that it happened, with the person who made the decision (Jamie Nolan) leaving.”