Responding to racial incidents that forced out the university system president, the University of Missouri System has hired Kevin McDonald as its first-ever chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer.
McDonald's hiring addresses one of the initiatives announced last year by the university's Board of Curators to address diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the university system. He comes to Missouri from the Rochester Institution of Technology, where he served as the vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion.
“Dr. McDonald’s extensive background and expertise in diversity and inclusion efforts, specifically across the higher education realm, makes him the perfect fit for this crucial role,” said Interim System President Michael Middleton said. “Inclusion is vital to the success of all our students, staff and faculty. The UM System will benefit immensely from his experience as he plans to foster more inclusive campus environments that embody a true culture of respect.”
McDonald also has worked as vice president for equity and inclusion at Virginia Tech and served in compliance roles at John Hopkins University and University of Maryland in College Park.
The appointment of a chief diversity officer was one of several initiatives that the University of Missouri Board of Curators had made a priority last fall after racial tensions embroiled the system's main campus in Columbia. Following a hunger strike by a student; a planned walkout by some of the faculty and a threat by members of the university's football team that it would refuse to play its remaining games.
The controversy culminated in the resignation of Tim Wolfe, system president, and R. Bowen Loftin, chancellor of the Columbia campus.
Other initiatives the Board of Curators are pursuing: conducting a full review of organizational policies in conjunction with a diversity audit, establishing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force to develop long- and short-term plans, and providing support for the hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff.
In his role at Missouri, McDonald will work to identify and address organizational and systemic issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion within the larger context of the university enterprise. This includes developing policies and best practices in operational areas including human resources, finance and academic affairs.