MU hires its first chief diversity officer

The University of Missouri has its first permanent diversity, equity and inclusion officer.

Kevin McDonald, who has been the vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion at the Rochester Institute of Technology, will begin immediately as MU’s chief diversity officer.

He will also serve as interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity for the Columbia campus.

MU interim Chancellor Hank Foley said Monday that McDonald ,who has also has been vice president for equity and inclusion at Virginia Tech and served in compliance roles at John Hopkins University and the University of Maryland in College Park, is “uniquely qualified to serve in this dual role” at MU.

“We’re at an important point in time in our history, and we don’t want to lose the momentum from all the work that has been completed,” said Foley. “Dr. McDonald’s expertise is just what we need to continue building on the progress that we have made over the past several months. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Foley thanked Chuck Henson, who has served as interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity since November 2015.

The university quickly placed Henson in that newly created position following a series of racially charged student protests on campus, last November.

Concerned Student 1950, a predominantly black student group, accused the university of systemic oppression and demanded a list of changes including the hiring of more black faculty. The protests led to the resignations of university System President Tim Wolfe and R. Bowen Loftin, then chancellor on the Columbia campus.

One of the first moves to address inclusion, diversity and equity at Mizzou was mandatory training on diversity-related issues. During Henson’s tenure, more than 4,000 students, faculty and staff were trained.

In addition, MU’s diversity division streamlined required training on best practices to ensure a diverse pool of candidates for anyone involved in hiring faculty, including people on a search committee.

Henson also oversaw the university’s designing of new programs to help faculty and staff understand and discuss diversity issues on campus. And, MU partnered with the State Historical Society of Missouri to implement the “African-American Experience in Missouri” lecture series.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc