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Vice provost for diversity and climate finalists announced

November 7, 2007 By John Lucas

UW-Madison has narrowed its search for a vice provost for diversity and climate to three finalists. They are:

Kenneth Durgans, vice provost for institute diversity, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y. Durgans is responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of diversity initiatives across all schools and programs at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, including recruiting, retention and fostering an embracing environment throughout the campus community.

Seema Kapani, campus diversity education coordinator in the UW–Madison Office for Equity and Diversity. Kapani has served in her current role since 1998. She designs, develops and facilitates a wide range of professional development Learning Communities, focusing around the issues of authentic inclusion, social justice and institutional change for faculty, staff and students.

Damon Williams, assistant vice provost in the Office of the Vice Provost for Multicultural and International Affairs at the University of Connecticut-Storrs. Williams leads initiatives, provides guidance and consults to the campus on issues of diversity and learning, recruitment and retention, strategic planning and enhancing campus climate.

The vice provost for diversity and climate serves as the senior diversity officer, working closely with deans, directors and other campus leaders to promote the recruitment and retention of minority faculty, staff and students, as well as providing leadership and fostering a positive environment for living, learning and working.

A 13-member search-and-screen committee made up of faculty, academic staff and student representatives recently presented the list of unranked finalists to Chancellor John Wiley and Provost Patrick Farrell.

The committee was chaired by Michael Thornton, professor of Afro-American Studies and director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

Campus visits by the finalists are expected to begin before the end of the semester. The visits will bring the finalists into contact with a wide cross-section of campus life, including interviews and question-and-answer sessions open to students, faculty and staff.

More information and a feedback mechanism will be provided as the visits are scheduled.

Following the visits, Wiley and Farrell will make a decision, with the goal of having the vice provost start as soon as possible.

"I want to thank the committee for developing this impressive set of finalists," says Farrell. "Our next step will be to meet and learn more about the three candidates and receive input on the final selection from our campus community."

The new vice provost will succeed Bernice Durand, who retired earlier this year.