By George Mauzy
Ohio University has named Brian K. Bridges, associate director of the American Council on Education's Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity in Washington, D.C., as its vice provost for diversity, access and equity. His appointment is effective Jan. 2.
As the university's chief diversity officer, Bridges will report to the executive vice president and provost and serve as a member of the president's executive staff.
The position of vice provost of diversity, access, and equity has not existed at the university before, but it is one of the key strategies of the Five Year Vision Ohio Implementation Plan. The hiring of Bridges completes the consolidation of the diversity-related offices in the Executive Vice President and Provost's Office begun on May 7, 2007. He will direct the university offices of Multicultural Student Access and Retention, Institutional Equity, Disability Services, Women's Center, LGBT Programs and Multicultural Programs.
"Brian will bring exceptional leadership to an important component of the Ohio University mission," said Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl. "During his career, he has helped advance academic excellence through the promotion of racial and gender diversity in higher education and I look forward to the contributions he will make to our institution with his knowledge, skills, and experience."
Krendl noted that having all of the offices grouped together in the academic sector of the university has allowed for the sharing of ideas, goals, and resources to an extent that has not been possible in the past. It has also significantly improved the ability of the staff in diversity-related units to better serve colleges, schools and departments.
"I'm thankful for the dedicated and creative individuals who work in each of the offices. Brian will play a key role in helping members of the team successfully meet their goals."
Bridges, who also serves as an adjunct professor of higher education at George Washington University and has written numerous academic articles and publications, said he was impressed that the university invested a good deal of time, effort and thought about the position.
"As a campus, we need to talk about diversity learning goals and outcomes," Bridges said. "I've also worked at a small-town university that reminds me of OU and I am intrigued by the challenge of helping the institution reach its full potential regarding diversity. We also need to convey the message that all students contribute to diversity."
Bridges' other responsibilities will be implementing a university-wide development plan that aligns with Vision Ohio, soliciting new funding for diversity, access and equity initiatives, and aiding the university's efforts to recruit diverse faculty, staff and students.
"Changes may not be immediate because implementing diversity initiatives is a long, hard road," Bridges said. "However, I'm willing to work hard to accomplish them. We would be doing our students a disservice to not give them the diversity tools they need to be successful in this changing world."
In his current position, Bridges serves as the deputy director and helps develop and implement the organization's strategic and programmatic agenda. The center works to bring awareness to the importance of diversity and inclusion in higher education and improve the academic and employment opportunities for minorities in higher education.
In 2006, Bridges was named an American College Personnel Association Emerging Scholar. He is an active member of the American Education Research Association and the Association for the Study of Higher Education and is a frequent author and presenter on the relationship between diversity and education.
Before this work with the center, he held several positions at Indiana University-Bloomington and its Center for Postsecondary Research and also worked in student affairs at Western Carolina University. He has also served in academic advising and career counseling roles at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Bridges, a native of Beaufort, S.C., earned a doctorate in higher education administration from Indiana University- Bloomington and a master's in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He also has a bachelor's of arts from Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C.
In his role as interim executive vice provost, David Descutner facilitated the consolidation of the diversity-related offices and provided oversight for them during the period when the university was conducting a search for the vice provost. Descutner is enthusiastic about the hiring of Bridges.
"Brian has a superb record as an educator, scholar and administrator. Everyone who met him during his campus visit was impressed with his knowledge and accomplishments, the breadth and depth of his experience, and the thoughtful approach he took to the issues facing our campus."