Global Engagement Appoints Chief Diversity Officer

The Office of Global Engagement has appointed Carl Thomas as chief diversity officer for the division. Thomas is currently the human resources manager, and this additional leadership role will include developing initiatives and actions for diversity, equity and inclusion, and combating racism; cultivating work environments that encourage and strengthen fair and equitable treatment; providing training and workshops for diversity and multicultural related programming.

“As we start this new academic year, we are facing both enormous uncertainties related to the pandemic and reopening of fall/spring semesters, and absolute certainty that we have to live up to our promises of action on diversity, equity, inclusion, and combating racism.  These double challenges will define the coming academic year, but also offer opportunities for us to be innovative for international education,” said Bailian Li, senior vice provost for global engagement.

Thomas took some time to reflect on what this new role will entail.

What are some of your goals for the division in this new academic year?

I want to enhance the training and resources available for the staff. We have grown so much as a division over the years, and we’re at different levels in our careers as well as in our understanding of various topics surrounding diversity within our individual lives. I think it’s important to meet people where they’re at, so it’s important to provide a variety of training and resources. I also want to make sure we celebrate our differences in ways that go beyond our physical appearances or identities.

I also seek to involve the staff in the Office of Global Engagement in more global learning opportunities across the campus in ways where our skills and expertise can help to enhance the climate of our campus.  

I would also like to reexamine our hiring processes to make sure that we are recruiting and hiring diverse candidates to our positions. I’ve already started to work with our university human resources team to look at options, such as more inclusive job descriptions, that can hopefully allow us to attract an even more diverse audience of applicants. 

What are some programs or initiatives for the division you’re considering in this new role?

Along with what the university is already providing, my hopes are that we will continue our efforts as a division and offer even more professional development opportunities in diversity, equity and inclusion topics. I’d also like to consider a mentorship program for rising leaders in our division as well as for those who are interested in our field of work as a career.  Mainly, I am interested in hearing from those that I work with to gain a more in-depth understanding of what they need.

Carl Thomas, Human Resources Manager and Chief Diversity Officer

I will begin to look at opportunities for our staff to establish employee resource groups (ERGs) within the division that are led by our staff. I also plan to form an advisory council to advise and participate in some of the decision making processes that are taking place as it relates to diversity for our division.

It’s also important to work with the staff to examine ways to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion elements in many of our global learning outcomes. Figuring out how to enhance and coordinate how we assess our programs, as they relate to diversity, is important in making sure they are relevant and promote the division’s strategic goals of enhancing student success and promoting global research and scholarship among faculty and staff. I want to move forward by continuing to build on what has worked well for us in the past.

How do your new duties fit in with your current role as the division’s human resources manager?

I feel that my new duties enhance what my focus has been since I’ve been in the central office for Global Engagement, which is the success of our staff. In the wake of all that is going on in the world, taking on this role in addition to what I have been doing is not an easy task. I will continue to focus on our staff so they can focus on enhancing student success, including those from groups such as underrepresented minorities, first-generation college students, and low-income students. 

I like to listen to be sure that I understand, and when I don’t understand, I am quick to ask questions. This approach has helped me to better work with our partners, students, alumni, and staff in the Office of Global Engagement. Inclusivity is critical, and I believe this role has a duty to promote a culture of a sense of belonging and support. So, I welcome and am open to feedback and ideas that will lead to greater understanding and cohesion within the Office of Global Engagement and the university at large.