College doles out $120k to 'eradicate equity gaps'

The position's salary could fund tuition for 30 in-state students.

Tacoma Community College's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion VP position will focus on “recruiting and retaining employees, and students, of color."

A Washington State college is offering $120,000 to $130,000 for a vice president of equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

Tacoma Community College expects the selected candidate for the position to develop a comprehensive plan, not only to improve campus climate and ensure a welcoming environment, but also "to eradicate equity gaps in student participation and achievement.”

Applicants are expected to have extensive knowledge and experience in “recruiting and retaining employees, and students, of color” and constructing “welcoming environments” for LGBTQ+ individuals, people of color, non-native English speakers, “people with varying abilities,” immigrants, and any peoples who “historically experience barriers and opportunities to resources.” In addition, applicants should be ready to address “inequities and conflicts related to race, power, societal or social white privilege, institutional racism, and implicit bias."

The VP will also work to design and implement “inclusive curricula” and “cultural competencies” training for faculty. The administrator will furthermore ensure the university’s compliance with non-discrimination laws.

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“Seems like an important position to have and the pay grade sounds fair to me,” Tacoma Community College student Elise Heimowitz told Campus Reform.

A $120,000 grant could pay tuition for 30 in-state students each year.

As recently as September, a Baylor University study found that such a grant might actually be a better alternative if Tacoma Community College hopes to increase diversity on its campus. Research showed "no significant statistical evidence” that diversity officers are effective in creating more diverse faculties.  

But Tacoma is following in the footsteps of many other institutions. The same study noted that over two-thirds of major universities in the United States had created and maintained an executive diversity officer position by 2016. Campus Reform  reported that major American schools shelled out an average of $175,088 annually in salaries for deans, provosts, VPs, and chancellors of diversity. 

[RELATED: STUDY: STEM diversity efforts have ‘unintended consequences’]

Tacoma Community College spokeswoman Tamyra Howser explained to Campus Reform that the salary range for the position was chosen based on the salaries of vice presidents of other departments.
“TCC, like all community and technical colleges in Washington, meets the needs of all ages of students at all stages of life-- high school, college, job training and retraining, and even for personal and professional enrichment,” Howser said. “The importance of this work crosses demographics but is especially true for first-generation students and students of color, who are less likely to be able to build on the previous generation’s opportunities.”

“At TCC, we believe that it’s not enough to get students in the door,” Howser told Campus Reform. “We want them to complete their programs, graduate, transfer, and achieve their educational and employment goals. It will be the task of the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion to help us achieve these goals in an equitable manner.”

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