Jewell to hire vice president for access and engagement as part of radical inclusivity efforts

William Jewell College will be hiring a full-time vice president for access and engagement as part of the College’s radical inclusivity efforts. Dr. Elizabeth Macleod Walls, president of the College, with full support of the Board of Trustees, will make the hire and hopes to have someone in the role by late July or early August.

“[The vice president of access and engagement will be] focused on advancing Radical Inclusivity at William Jewell. This includes supporting the recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff or color and forging meaningful relationships with communities of color in Kansas City and beyond,” Macleod Walls said.

The vice president of access and engagement (VPAE) will report directly to the president of the College and will be a member of the Cabinet. The VPAE will also oversee the Center for Justice and Sustainability – promoting inclusion and cross-cultural communication between students of all identities. 

“The inaugural Vice President for Access and Engagement will join William Jewell College at a time of considerable momentum and positive energy as the college has placed the achievement of an equitable and inclusive environment as its top strategic priority,” the VPAE job description states. “The VPAE will provide strategic leadership in the development of a comprehensive and integrated framework that is focused on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; synchronizing and leveraging past and current efforts; and introducing emerging practices to move the institution forward in becoming a more welcoming and inclusive learning and working environment.”

“The VPAE will assume the lead role with regard to the current campus-wide initiative aimed at examining pedagogy, policies, practices and people as they relate to inclusivity, and will continue to develop a plan to address concerns and/or gaps as they materialize,” the job description continues.

The vice president will advise various departments – including academic affairs, advancement, enrollment management, finance, human resources, marketing and student services – to “provide guidance to ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging remain integral in all dimensions of the institution.” They will develop “highly visible” educational events and programs to advance the College’s cultural engagement goals in addition to being actively involved in community building opportunities. The VPAE will make efforts to create a welcoming and inclusive campus for all members of the community.

The vice president will work with other cabinet members, deans, department chairs, faculty and staff to recruit faculty, staff and students of all backgrounds. 

“Through strategic policy development, practice, advocacy and mentoring, the Vice President for Access and Engagement will work to transform programs and processes to support a vibrant campus, cultivate a positive and respectful culture, and develop a diverse curriculum that truly reflects William Jewell College,” said the VPAE job description.

Candidates for vice president of access and engagement must have an advanced degree – either doctorate or terminal degrees – and must have a progressive record of experience promoting diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging in a higher education setting. Alternatively, a candidate may have an equivalent record of education and leadership experience.

“The ideal candidate will be a visionary leader and a strategic thinker, adept at accomplishing goals through a collaborative, community-and-coalition building process,” said the VPAE job description.

Among the necessary skills and abilities, the vice president of access and engagement must have a deep understanding of and expertise in issues of race, gender, sexuality, disability, indigeneity, class and the dynamics of difference, privilege and power. They must also have a demonstrated ability to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue and engagement – in addition to conflict resolution skills, active listening skills, the ability to build consensus, “an unwavering commitment to inclusive excellence, coupled with an ability to inspire and influence others to achieve their full potential” and more.

On July 14, a top candidate for the position – Dr. Rodney Smith – will be interviewed by Macleod Walls and other members of the Jewell community. Macleod Walls concluded by reiterating the significance of establishing this new position in the community. 

“This is an important step forward for advancing our goals for equity and inclusivity at William Jewell,” Macleod Walls said.

Catherine Dema

Catherine Dema is the page editor for Features & Investigations on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in Oxbridge: History of Ideas and physics.

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