Brian Bridges

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Bridges to join United Negro College Fund’s Patterson Research Institute

Brian Bridges, vice provost for diversity, access and equity, announced that he has accepted a position as the executive director of the United Negro College Fund's (UNCF) Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute.

Bridges will begin his new responsibilities on March 5.

Bridges, who joined Ohio University in 2009, was charged with overseeing the Office for Diversity, Access and Equity and with strengthening the University's overall diversity efforts.  

The office houses International Student and Faculty Services; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center; the Multicultural Center and Programs; the Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention; Regional Campus Diversity; and the Women's Center.  

Bridges indicated that he has greatly enjoyed his time at Ohio University and has appreciated the opportunity to work with dedicated people across the institution.  

"This is a bittersweet move for me. While it allows me to spend more time with precious family members, I leave knowing that there is still work to be done in advancing Ohio University's ability to live up to its legacy and potential for diversity and inclusion," said Bridges. "I've been able to partner with some great campus and community colleagues over the last three years. They have supported my efforts to infuse an appreciation for difference in policies, practices and programs."

In his new position, Bridges will serve as UNCF's chief research officer, the principal editor and contributor for its publications, and the manager of projects involving external consultants.

Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit said that she regrets Bridges' departure but recognizes that the new position will make it easier for him to combine family and career.  

"Brian has been an effective advocate across the institution for the importance of diversity. His expertise combined with his tremendous collegiality has allowed Ohio University to become more strategic in its approach to supporting diversity," Benoit said.

Benoit indicated that one of Bridges' most valued talents was his ability to identify areas of need and then create effective ways of addressing those needs.

As vice provost, Bridges helped to broaden the University's commitment to diversity by building campus-community partnerships. He organized a town hall meeting on civility, made University events such as the annual MLK Celebration more inclusive of community participation, and involved the University and local organizations in the White House Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge.

Aiming to create a larger pool of diversity ambassadors, Bridges established the Summer Institute for Diversity Education and Diversity Essentials (SIDE). Over the course of two summers, SIDE has allowed faculty, staff and students to acquire the training necessary to become more effective advocates for diversity in their daily lives and in their departments, schools or offices.

Through his work on international campus issues, Bridges also has been successful in expanding understanding and appreciation of the many facets of diversity. He helped to shape international initiatives through collaborations with the Center for International Studies and the Senior International Management Team. He also played a key role in the renovation of the building that now houses the Walter International Education Center.

Benoit indicated that she plans to begin a search for a new vice provost in winter quarter. Until a new appointment is made, David Descutner, executive vice provost and dean of university college, will take on the responsibilities of the diversity position in an interim capacity.  

Descutner has prior experience in this role having served as the interim leader of the diversity office from 2007-2008.  

"David has been a major contributor to Ohio University's diversity efforts for many years, and his teaching and scholarship reflect his longstanding interest in diversity. He knows the issues, the units, and the staff," said Benoit. "Under David's capable leadership the momentum created by the work of Brian and his colleagues will continue unabated."  

"Brian has been a wonderful partner for me and all of the deans and their colleges," said Descutner. "He and his colleagues have done terrific work in advancing the issues related to diversity and in cultivating within the campus community a rich understanding of diversity in all of its forms. I look forward to our future collaboration."