Despite financial woes, Ivy League school hires SECOND diversity czar

The University of Pennsylvania recently created a “Vice President for Social Equity” position, which will join the school’s top administration, in spite of tight finances caused by coronavirus.

The university already employs a “Chief Diversity Officer.”

The University of Pennsylvania announced earlier this summer plans to establish a new senior administrative position: the “Vice President for Social Equity and Community.”

According to a university announcement emailed to students, Charles “Chaz” Howard — the university’s current chaplain — will assume the new role August 1. He will focus on “bringing diverse groups of students, faculty, and staff together to build out and support the University’s culture of inclusive understanding and social impact while also working to help overcome historical and structural barriers to advancing that mission.”

Howard will work closely with the school’s “Chief Diversity Officer” — another senior administrative position that the Ivy League school employs to focus on social justice. He will direct the university’s Projects for Progress: “a new fund intended to encourage students, faculty, and staff to design and implement pilot projects based on innovative research that will advance Penn’s aim of a more inclusive university and community.”

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According to Penn’s IRS filings, the university’s inaugural Chief Diversity Officer Joann Mitchell earned more than $580,000 in total compensation for the fiscal year ending June 2018. 

Mitchell’s appointment was announced in March 2017. It is unclear whether the new Vice President for Social Equity will earn a comparable salary, but other vice presidents earned between $300,000 and $800,000 during the same fiscal year. 

The university did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment on the matter. 

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Although Penn will likely be paying two six-figure salaries for social justice senior-level administrators, the university recently expressed concern over the coronavirus’s effects on its finances. 

According to an April 23 press release, “the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant financial impact on the University of Pennsylvania. Penn has experienced a substantial increase in costs to support students in the move from campus to online learning, combined with lost revenue across many areas of the University.”

The Daily Pennsylvanian reported in April that UPenn officials making more than $70,000 per year will not see annual salary or stipend increases. Regarding layoffs, a June message posted to the university's website reads, "The Division of Human Resources has developed guidance and enhanced options for School and Center leadership to enable both voluntary and involuntary separations and furloughs. As the impact of COVID-19 is uneven across the University, each School and Center will need to develop a plan that addresses its unique circumstances."

UPenn is one of many higher education institutions across the country that is raising its tuition by 3.9 percent for the fall 2020 semester. 

UPenn, like many others, will offer courses both virtually and in-person to minimize the risk posed by the coronavirus.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft