Queen's University — Since 1873
3rd December 2009

Diversity advisor position revamped

Senate on Educational Equity Committee chair tasked with plan development

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The University’s Diversity Advisor position has been terminated and replaced with the Director of Educational and Equity Projects.

Adnan Husain, history professor and chair of the Senate Educational Equity Committee, has been offered the position, which falls under the Vice-Principal (Academic)’s portfolio. The position will assess and implement recommendations from the Henry Report, released in 2006, which highlights how Queen’s falls behind in issues in diversity, specifically hiring and recruiting practices.

The Director of Educational and Equity Projects follows the former Diversity Advisor position held by history professor Barrington Walker.

“The Diversity Advisor would try to access the different areas of the University in which we could make progress increasing diversity among our community and maximizing understanding between different groups,” Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane said.

Deane said that in light of some recommendations such as the Henry Report, the University is looking to assess how far Queen’s has come and where it hasn’t made progress. He said Husain’s position will be more specific in terms of implementing short-term goals.

“We’ve begun to document those recommendations and to group them and see what ones can be acted upon quickly,” he said.

Husain said the short-term goals of the new position are to develop a strategy and timeline for implementing some of the recommendations offered in previous reports about diversity and equity matters.

He said part of this strategy will require a survey or audit of what measures, programs and practices already exist while receiving feedback across the University to achieve greater equity and diversity.

“The Henry Report was designed to speak about the problem of faculty recruitment and retention but some of its recommendations go beyond that purpose to enhancing and improving the climate for racialized and other equity seeking groups,” he said. Husain said short-term recommendations don’t require a lot of resources or preparatory work, adding that they include educational policy revision and rewriting the mission statement of Queen’s.

Other ones are more long-term, he said, adding that one recommendation is to recruit a more diverse student population.

Husain’s position will also involve a committee of students, faculty and staff called the Diversity and Equity Task Force that he will choose to help assess the recommendations and strategies of the Henry Report, he said.

“It’s going to involve quite a lot of extra work,” Husain said.

He said that he didn’t want to give up teaching his course next term about Islam and the Middle East despite his new position.

“I’m very committed to ensuring that we have a curriculum that offers insight into the greater world in which we live and it seemed counter productive to work on the climate of equity and diversity and not teach this course,” Husain said.

“This is a very important opportunity… to think about how we might innovate in our curriculum to emerge in a period of straightened economic circumstances with a dynamic educational program which will better serve our students and support our faculty.”

—With files from Rachel Kuper

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