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Robin Means Coleman named NU’s chief diversity officer


Robin Means Coleman has been named Northwestern’s new vice president, associate provost for diversity and inclusion, and chief diversity officer. Coleman will begin at NU on Feb. 1, according to a Monday news release.

Provost Kathleen Hagerty wrote Coleman’s experience in leading diversity and inclusion efforts at major research universities made her the “perfect choice” for NU. Coleman, a nationally prominent and award-winning scholar, specializes in media studies and the cultural politics of Blackness.

She will help us realize the University’s commitments to equity and inclusion, during a time when we, as a University and a country, grapple with pervasive anti-Blackness and the inequitable effects of a global pandemic,” Hagerty said in the release.

Coleman will arrive on campus nearly a year after previous CDO Jabbar Bennett’s departure from the role. Women’s Center Director Sekile Nzinga has been serving as CDO in the interim. The year-long wait for a new CDO had drawn criticism from the community, especially as administrators made he commitments to racial and social justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Coleman currently serves as vice president and associate provost for diversity at Texas A&M, where she leads university efforts in accountability, climate and equity. 

At NU, Coleman will oversee the Office of Institutional Diversity, dedicated to coordinating efforts to counter racism and exclusion, promoting equity and access. The office works to provide programs and resources and engage in advocacy for students, staff and faculty of all backgrounds.

“Change and progress are what make Northwestern University a world-class institution,” Coleman said. “Northwestern has always led when it comes to developing innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The university succeeds and thrives because it is home to the very best thought leaders.” 

The announcement comes nearly a month of daily actions from students, led by NU Community Not Cops, calling for the abolition of University Police and investment in institutions that benefit Black students’ well-being. 

Following the University’s condemnation of student demonstrations, hundreds of faculty, graduate workers and staff issued statements criticizing the administration’s response to student demands. Many urged the University to rethink the necessity of UP and listen to student concerns with respect.

This content was originally published here.

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