Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney announced a new position in her cabinet, called the vice president of institutional diversity, equity and inclusion, according to a Feb. 18 email to the Loyola community. The email also marked the beginning of recruitment for the position.
The creation of this role comes after a semester of protests and gatherings on campus from students advocating for more support for Black Loyola students in the wake of nationwide protests over the mistreatment and killings of Black people, especially by police, The Phoenix previously reported.
Along with protests and lists of demands for better support for students of color, groups such as Our Streets LUC — the student group that orchestrated protests on and around campus in the first few months of the school year — and Black Cultural Center, a Loyola student organization created to embrace the many cultures created by the African Diaspora, have been working behind the scenes with Loyola’s administration on how the university can meet their requests, The Phoenix previously reported.
The new position will lead diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts across the university and work to establish ways to track progress for cultural change, according to Rooney’s email. The announcement also said the new position will be part of the President’s Cabinet, have a position on the Board of Trustees’ Jesuit Catholic Identity and Diversity and Inclusion Committee and report directly to Rooney.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are vital to fulfilling our Jesuit mission and the establishment of this position deepens our commitment to building an institutional platform of diversity, equity, and inclusion that will be a model for others to follow in the future,” Rooney said in a press release.
Rooney didn’t have anything to add beyond the press release, according to University Spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach.
Malik S. Henfield, founding dean of Loyola’s new Institute for Racial Justice, will lead the recruitment effort as chair of the search committee. Students will also be included in the committee, according to the email.
“Today’s announcement is the result of many months of work,” Henfield said in a press release. “This is just the first step into making Loyola a more inclusive place and we will continue to work together to identify new opportunities and build on existing best practices from other universities to ensure everyone feels welcome to come to Loyola to begin their educational journey.”
Henfield declined to comment to The Phoenix beyond his press release statement.
In the email, Rooney thanked Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Winifred Williams for “laying a strong foundation for our University’s early DEI efforts and creating a more diverse and equitable campus environment.”
Williams didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Phoenix.