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Weber State forms division to aid push to bolster equity, diversity, inclusion

By Tim Vandenack - | Jan 20, 2022

Photo supplied, Weber State University

Adrienne Andrews

OGDEN — In a bid to bolster equity, diversity and inclusion — which encompasses outreach to students of color — Weber State University is creating a new division that’ll oversee the varied offices that address such matters.

The school calls it “the most significant change to the university’s organizational structure in more than 28 years.” Adrienne Andrews, who will head the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion division, as it’s called, said the end result will be better communication among the varied university players focused in such areas, improving the overall efforts.

“I think it makes explicit that Weber State continues to pursue equity, diversity and inclusion for all of our students,” she said. Andrews, who had been assistant vice president of diversity and chief diversity officer at Weber State, becomes a university vice president in taking on the new role.

The university has pushed hard to augment outreach to students of color, even as some Black students have charged on-and-off in recent years that the university needs to do more. Last November, a contingent decried what they said was the delay by administration officials in getting word out to the school’s Black students about signage clandestinely put up around the Shepherd Union linked to the white supremacist movement. It was taken down as soon as university officials came across it.

Andrews, though, emphasized that the new efforts aren’t focused solely on Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ and other students belonging to groups that have traditionally faced marginalization in the broader community.

“We are talking about all of those students and, in general, all students,” she said. She noted that most nursing students are non-Hispanic white females and that, as part of efforts to bolster inclusion, her office could augment outreach to white male students, as well as other male students of color.

The new division will oversee the university’s Center for Diversity and Unity, the Center for Multicultural Excellence, the LGBT Resource Center and other offices. Moreover, a new position meant to bolster outreach to Hispanic students will be created under the new division’s umbrella, coinciding with the university’s push to become an Emerging Hispanic Servicing Institution, or EHSI.

To become an EHSI, a U.S. Department of Education designation, a university must boost its Hispanic enrollment to 15% of the student body. That’s a step toward the larger goal of 25% Hispanic enrollment and becoming a Hispanic-Servicing Institution, which opens the door to additional federal funding.

Though the buck will stop most immediately with Andrews in equity issues, the individual university programs and offices under her will have leeway. “It’s not a job for one of us. It’s a job for all of us,” said Andrews, who’s been with Weber State for 17 years.

Kearston Cutrubus, chair of the WSU board of trustees, called the move an important one.

Creating the new division is “a critical step to help bring people together to address the needs of our students, faculty and staff, as we work toward the goals outlined in our strategic plan,” he said. The strategic plan sets out university goals through 2026.

University President Brad Mortensen lauded Andrews’ accomplishments, at Weber State and beyond. “Adrienne is a trusted and respected leader on equity, diversity and inclusion issues within the state of Utah,” he said.

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