New DEI office at WIU a ‘historic’ addition
Western Illinois University is creating a new office to ensure it provides a welcoming culture. The university will soon begin the search for a person to direct the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
WIU President Guiyou Huang told the Board of Trustees the office will be the go-to place for students, faculty, and staff of diverse backgrounds.
“This is historic. I think this will be an important tool with which we can improve race relations,” Dr. Huang said, adding he might add the word “justice” to the office’s name.
The BoT voted unanimously to approve creation of the office.
In an interview with TSPR, Huang said they’re finishing work on the job description for the office’s director. A committee will conduct the search. He hoped to have the DEI office up and running by late summer or early fall.
Huang said he currently has a special assistant for DEI, several organizations at Western are involved with DEI issues and programming, and the university has an anti-racism task force. But there is no centralized office coordinating such efforts.
“The students, especially students of diverse backgrounds, have concerns about how they are treated. They have expressed to me on different occasions they need a go-to place that can address all these issues related to DEI,” he said.
Huang said many other institutions already have a DEI office or something similar. He said this will be the first time in Western Illinois University’s more than 120-year history that it’s had such an office.
“This is a moment when we can make a big difference in the quality of life led by students, in particular students from diverse backgrounds,” Huang said.
He added, “I do know we have a lot of work to do.”
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