Fordham University, the Jesuit University of New York, is seeking a visionary, collaborative, enterprising, and persuasive leader to be its inaugural Special Advisor to the President for Diversity, Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (AVP). Reporting to the President and the Provost, the CDO/AVP will be a member of the President’s Advisory Council (PAC), and will be responsible for providing overall strategic leadership for diversity and inclusion initiatives that support Fordham University’s mission, its Jesuit, Catholic tradition, and its long-term strategic goals.
Fordham University, the Jesuit University of New York, is a private, coeducational, urban research university in New York City guided by the Jesuit principles of striving for excellence in all things, caring for others, and fighting for justice. Founded by Bishop John Hughes of New York as St. John’s College in 1841 with six students, Fordham University grew steadily over the 20th century and today offers an exceptional education committed to the discovery of wisdom and the transmission of learning to over 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 10 schools on two residential New York City campuses (Rose Hill in the Bronx and Lincoln Center in Manhattan), as well as centers in Westchester, NY, Armonk, NY, and London, England. Fordham University was ranked 60th in National Universities in the 2017 edition of Best Colleges, has an operating budget of $569 million, and an endowment of approximately $650 million.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies Fordham University as a doctoral university with high research activity, one of 99 such universities in the country. Fordham University is also committed to teaching, boasting a 14:1 undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio and an average class size of 23 students per class. The university is composed of four undergraduate and six graduate schools, offering undergraduate liberal arts and business programs and graduate programs in education, law, social service, religion and religious education, arts and sciences, and business.
Fordham University has over 175,000 alumni spread throughout the world, with notable alumni including Geraldine Ferraro, the first female Vice Presidential candidate; Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York; football coaching legend Vince Lombardi; actors Alan Alda, Denzel Washington, and Patricia Clarkson; and numerous leaders in business, finance, government, media and communications, and the arts, including authors Don DeLillo and Mary Higgins Clark, broadcast journalist Charles Osgood, and Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
In fall 2015, University President Joseph M. McShane, S.J. launched a process to set Fordham’s strategic direction for the next several years. A dedicated committee of faculty and administrators crafted A Strategic Framework for Fordham’s Future: Bothered Excellence, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in September 2016.
The Strategic Framework identifies six areas of strategic work for the university to pursue under the headings of the following priorities:
- Contemporary teaching and learning infused with ethics and justice
- Strategically focused research
- The inspiration and challenge of New York City
- A global perspective
- A diverse and inclusive community
- A strategic and agile institution
This is a unique opportunity for the Chief Diversity Officer to join Fordham at a defining moment in its history, as the university engages in the implementation of the vision to build on the historic strengths of Fordham University while charting a course to a bold, new, and inspiring future–one that prepares students for life in a global society.
Fordham University Leadership
Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President
A native of New York, Father McShane entered the Society of Jesus in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He received both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Boston College, and master’s degrees in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in 1977. He completed his doctorate in the history of Christianity at the University of Chicago in 1981. He served as a member of the Department of Religious Studies at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, from 1981 to 1992 and served as the Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill from 1992 to 1998. In 1998, Father McShane became President of the University of Scranton, a post that he held until he returned to Fordham in 2003 to assume the Fordham presidency.
Stephen Freedman, Provost
Stephen Freedman is the Provost of Fordham University and a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Dr. Freedman leads the university’s schools and colleges, research centers and institutes, and other academic units. Dr. Freedman joined Loyola University Chicago in 1978 and served for 24 years as a professor in the Department of Natural Science, as a member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Biology, and as the Dean of Mundelein College. He served as Academic Vice President at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, from 2002 to 2007, before joining Fordham as Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer. He became Provost in 2010. An experienced educator, researcher, and university administrator, Dr. Freedman earned a BS from Loyola of Montreal, an MS in environmental studies from York University in Toronto, and a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of California at Irvine.
Diversity and Inclusion at Fordham University
Founded in 1841 as a Catholic college for predominantly young men of Catholic European immigrant families in the greater New York metropolitan area, the university gradually expanded to welcome members of other immigrant groups, individuals of other faiths, women, and members of different cultures and racial-ethnic communities. From its beginning as a small Catholic college with undergraduate students drawn from local Catholic high schools, Fordham is now a national and world-renowned institution of higher education enrolling students from across the nation and from around the world. Today, Fordham embraces its commitment to a community characterized by diversity of thought and recognizes that an environment wherein all racial and ethnic identities may find a home and inspiration is part and parcel of the mission and identity of the “model urban Jesuit university of the 21st century” it strives to become.
The university has long examined itself with regard to race and diversity in a variety of forums, committees, and task forces through mandates from leadership, and through grassroots activism among faculty, students, and staff. The most recent formal task force on Diversity and Inclusion was convened by Father McShane in 2015. Over the course of the 2015-16 academic year, the task force undertook a comprehensive investigation into climate, policies, and perceptions with regard to issues of race, representation, and inclusion throughout the university and the surrounding community. The task force provided a comprehensive set of recommendations to leadership about people, curricula, community engagement, and policies and procedures. The resulting University Diversity Action Plan announced by Father McShane in November 2016 calls for the establishment of the role of the CDO/AVP and outlines a series of concrete actions the university will take in order to foster demonstrable and meaningful progress in diversity and inclusion at Fordham.
The Role and Key Responsibilities
Reporting to the President and the Provost, the CDO/AVP will serve as the champion for the university’s overall diversity and inclusion agenda by developing and facilitating the strategies, decision making, priority setting, and actions necessary to advance diversity and inclusion at all levels of the university. The CDO/AVP will be called upon to provide strategic and organizational consultation and guidance to senior administrators, institutional leaders, and managers to increase diversity and cultural competence, and to promote an institutional climate that supports effective learning and advancement for all in the Fordham community. As a member of the President’s Advisory Committee (PAC), consisting of Vice Presidents and Deans across the university, the CDO/AVP will work collaboratively to create a proactive action plan around diversity and inclusion. In addition, the CDO/AVP will collaborate with the Bias Incident Response Group, the Title IX Coordinator, and partners in human resources and student and academic affairs to respond to issues of bias quickly, appropriately, and constructively. Working with the Provost, Deans, and faculty, the CDO/AVP will advance Fordham’s agenda to promote diversity and inclusion in the structure, content, and delivery of the academic enterprise. The CDO/AVP will lead the university’s Diversity Leadership Team (with the Chief Human Resources Officer and the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs for Diversity and Inclusion), and will establish and chair a University Diversity Committee, which will coordinate existing efforts and develop comprehensive vision on diversity and inclusive excellence initiatives at the university.
The CDO/AVP will join Fordham at a time when the campus is hungry for a vibrant and optimistic partner to provide guidance and leadership for its diversity and inclusion aspirations. A determined and hopeful professional who wishes to make a significant contribution to strengthening an institution committed to cura personalis (care for the entire person) will be needed for this role. The CDO/AVP will be a credible and influential leader and developer of strong cross-functional teams and will be charged with creating an atmosphere and the structures necessary for large-scale institutional change to take root. The CDO/AVP should bring leadership experience and aptitude to build and mentor a team in the future. The CDO/AVP will promote innovative and creative problem-solving, possess active listening and strong communication skills, embody trust, confidence, and respect, and lead others by influence and example. Specifically, the CDO/AVP will proactively address the following objectives:
- Utilize the university’s Diversity Action Plan to develop a diversity strategic plan and outcome metrics in collaboration with the Continuous University Strategic Planning (CUSP) committee;
- Establish and chair the university’s Diversity Committee. Lead the Diversity Leadership Team (with the Chief Human Resources Officer and the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs for Diversity and Inclusion) to establish and promote institution wide inclusion and diversity goals;
- Create an environment of inclusion by enhancing the experience of underrepresented student populations, creating opportunities for engaged, meaningful, and challenging dialogue, providing services that assist with the retention of underrepresented students, and promoting a culture that supports underrepresented, under-resourced students of diverse identities;
- Provide leadership, advocacy, support services, and programming to strengthen the culture of inclusion and diversity in the Jesuit tradition at Fordham by maintaining an active and visible presence on campus;
- Facilitate inclusion and diversity education and training for all university constituencies, with a particular focus on faculty, staff, and graduate students;
- Serve as a resource to the community as they explore the development and implementation of curricular and co-curricular initiatives that are inclusive and diverse;
- Partner with the faculty and the Chief Human Resources Officer to diversify the ranks of all University administrators and faculty members;
- Collaborate with the university’s admissions and enrollment teams on the development of appropriate enrollment strategies, goals, and objectives;
- Coordinate campus-wide diversity and inclusion and multicultural awareness events in collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Affairs;
- Collaborate with the Divisions of Student Affairs and Mission Integration and Planning on various events, including New Student Orientation, to promote diversity and inclusion for the entire student population;
- Partner with the Offices of Disability Services, International Initiatives, Veterans’ Services, Student Involvement, and others to facilitate the effective, ongoing integration of underrepresented populations into the university community;
- Develop and maintain active partnerships with the external community and appropriate alumni groups, through the Office of Alumni Relations, in support of inclusion and diversity;
- Serve as an active member, when appropriate, of other standing committees and ad hoc committees that address diversity and inclusion;
- Manage a budget to include co-sponsorship opportunities with campus partners;
- Provide strategic direction and content for the university’s diversity webpage.
Qualifications and Experience
The successful candidate will have an advanced degree, and a terminal degree is preferred. Also required is a minimum of 10 years of senior or executive level experience in the development, implementation, and assessment of diversity and inclusion strategies and practices. Experience in an academic setting or at a similarly complex institution is preferred. The candidate must have deep knowledge of current diversity best practices, and extensive experience in influencing organizational behavior and change. The candidate should have experience fostering innovative and creative problem solving, strong listening and communication skills, a presence that engenders trust, confidence and respect, and the ability to lead by influence and example. The candidate’s open engagement with and respect and commitment to contributing to the Jesuit, Catholic dimensions of Fordham University’s mission are of great importance.
In addition, the CDO/AVP will possess the following abilities, attributes, and experiences:
- Experience creating, influencing, leading, and executing strategic planning and guiding diverse groups collaboratively toward a common vision;
- Demonstrated experience in advancing public discussion of diversity and inclusion issues within a university and/or wider community setting;
- A nuanced, broad, and sophisticated understanding of diversity topics including, but not limited to: race, religion, culture, socioeconomics, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and ability;
- Experience working effectively with decision-makers across many levels of the organization;
- Demonstrated leadership in the creation and delivery of organization wide diversity, equity and cultural competency training programs;
- Proven ability to establish effective partnerships with campus community members, student and staff organizations, and community and external entities;
- Experience interacting with and incorporating the voices of students and student groups, particularly students of color and other multicultural student groups;
- Strong analytical and critical thinking skills, and the ability to organize, analyze, summarize, and effectively connect the institution to emerging best practices in creating a more inclusive and diverse campus environment;
- Demonstrated track record leading, implementing, and communicating large-scale change management initiatives in complex organizations; and
- Unparalleled personal integrity, ethics, and initiative. Strong commitment and passion to lead ongoing organizational transformation.
Final candidates will be required to complete a background check successfully.
Please send applications (resume and letter of interest) and nominations to Tom Phillips, Beth Schaefer, and Amy Sugin at Neumann Executive Search Partners at
Fordham University is committed to excellence through diversity and welcomes candidates of all backgrounds. Fordham is an Equal Opportunity Employer.