Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

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Dr. Shari Clarke

Dr. Shari Clarke is heading to Eastern Washington University in August

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Shari Clarke reflects on her time in Athens

Dr. Clarke to join Eastern Washington University in August

Ohio University Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Shari Clarke was recently hired as the founding vice president for diversity and inclusion at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington, effective Aug. 1.

Dr. Clarke, who began her duties at OHIO during the summer of 2014, said her official final day at OHIO is July 31.

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost is scheduled to announce its interim plans for leadership in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion very soon.

Dr. Clarke shared some of her final thoughts with the Compass audience:

Why was the EWU job the right position for you?

It was a personal and professional decision for me and my husband, John. We had lived in the state of Washington at the start of my career when I worked at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. I love the environment and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, so when I was contacted about this new position, I was excited. Diversity and inclusion needs the highest level of support within the organizational structure. In addition, I tend to gravitate to schools that are midsize to make the professional connections necessary to advance a diversity and inclusion agenda.

Why is diversity important in today’s world and on college campuses?

Unfortunately, we see more and more that diversity is not on everyone’s agenda and there are so many inequities in today’s society. We see folks with limited travel opportunities and we see individuals who are uncomfortable on college campuses because of differences. More and more I hear from students expressing fears, discomfort and a lack of acceptance on campus. Diversity is crucial. It continues to be a struggle and people continue to fight for their rights. It is pivotal for Diversity and Inclusion to have a voice in higher education. Higher Education should always lead those conversations on diversity. If not us, then who?

What accomplishments at OHIO are you most proud of?

We built a strong diversity foundation. The directors and special assistants in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion have done a great job and their work is extraordinary.

I’m really proud of our new Multicultural Faculty in Residence program where we will have our first resident faculty member this fall, Christina Wright from the College of Business.

Our Junior Faculty Mentoring Program and the Latino Caucus under the leadership of Dr. Alicia Chavira-Prado is giving a voice to folks who have traditionally not been heard on campus.

Our Multicultural Leadership Ambassadors have educated more than 7,000 people on campus and are in high demand as presenters.

Our Southern Regional Education Board affiliation has allowed us to recruit faculty from underrepresented groups at the SREB Institute on Teaching and Mentoring each year. That’s so important for our efforts to create a diverse faculty.

I’m also happy that we started the Diversity blog, “Reflections.”

We have a lot to be proud of and whoever comes after me will have a lot to build on. We have been innovative and strategic at moving the diversity needle forward during the past three years.

What are your final thoughts?

I will truly miss the people I worked with on a daily basis. They are so dedicated to being Bobcats and making this experience great for our students. I will miss the daily interactions with all of my colleagues – which includes all of the students, staff and faculty I’ve worked closely with. I will also miss living in the great state of Ohio because I’m a Toledo girl. Finally, I will always be a strong supporter of Ohio University because I was extremely proud to be a Bobcat!