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UW-Madison names vice provost for diversity, climate

March 26, 2008 By John Lucas

Damon Williams has been named vice provost for diversity and climate, the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s chief diversity officer. He will start on Aug. 1.

Williams comes to the university from a position as assistant vice provost in the Office of the Vice Provost for Multicultural and International Affairs at the University of Connecticut-Storrs. There, he led initiatives, provided guidance, and consulted with the campus on issues of diversity and learning, recruitment and retention, strategic planning and enhancing campus climate.

He holds a doctorate in organizational behavior and management from the University of Michigan Center for the Study of Higher and Post-Secondary Education and is nationally recognized in the areas of diversity, leadership and organizational change. He has served as a scholar in residence for the Association of American Colleges and Universities and recently published a monograph with the American Council on Education (ACE) titled "The Chief Diversity Officer: A Primer for Presidential Leadership."

"We are very pleased to have Damon Williams assume this important leadership role on campus. He possesses incredible energy and has a strong vision for this position," says UW–Madison Provost Patrick Farrell, who made the selection along with Chancellor John Wiley and Vice Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell. "I am confident that he will provide inclusive leadership for our ongoing efforts to build a diverse and welcoming campus.

"Damon’s appointment is a full-time appointment, and he will be in an exceptional position to lead our efforts for the post-Plan 2008 era," Farrell adds.

Williams will work closely with deans, directors and other campus leaders to promote the recruitment and retention of minority faculty, staff and students; create experiences that help all students to prepare for a world that is diverse, global and interconnected; and provide leadership in promoting a positive environment for the entire university community to live, learn and work.

Farrell says that the other two finalists, UW–Madison’s Seema Kapani and Kenneth Durgans, formerly of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, were both exceptionally well qualified, making for a difficult decision.

"The University of Wisconsin has a legacy of leadership in this area, and I look forward to learning more about the impressive initiatives already under way and finding ways to amplify the efforts of a community deeply committed to issues of access, equity and diversity," says Williams.

Williams, who replaces the recently retired Bernice Durand, will have a salary of $150,000. He also will hold a zero-dollar clinical assistant professor appointment with the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

For more information on diversity and climate efforts, visit here.