Stetson University has a new staff position – the Executive Officer for Diversity, Inclusion and Collaboration.
Carmen Johnson, an existing faculty member and Stetson law graduate, will fill the role, which university leaders say is designed to address concerns found in its 2020 Campus Climate Survey.
“With the upcoming release of months of work by our community in addressing issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, we are at a critical point in moving Stetson University forward,” said President Christopher F. Roellke in a press release.
Campus climate surveys address the current attitudes, concerns and overall culture of colleges and universities. According to Johnson, Stetson appointed multiple working groups to make recommendations for the president’s cabinet based on the 2020 survey.
The list of recommendations called publicizing hiring practices and centralizing complaint centers “critical” to promoting equity and inclusion throughout Stetson’s campuses.
At the time of the report, Stetson was not collecting or reporting demographic data from its hiring searches.
The working group also noted that while the university does provide resources like Title IX and EthicsPoint for students and faculty to report grievances, community members are often unsure of which to use.
With these recommendations, Johnson says she is forming an action plan for the school to directly address its needs as they relate to diversity and inclusion.
Johnson, a Florida native and Clearwater resident, will be stationed at Stetson Law’s Gulfport campus. The college of law also has a location in Tampa, and its four-year undergraduate campus is located in DeLand.
Her role will also include bridging gaps between these three locations.
“It is a unique situation where we have campuses that are in different cities, not just different parts of the city, but completely different cities,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of avenues, a lot of opportunity, especially in the inclusion and equity space, where we’re able to pool our resources together.”
Hailing from Tallahassee, Johnson earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Miami before attending Stetson Law in 2012 to focus on “criminal and post conviction matters.”
But pursuing an ongoing interest in higher education, she went on to serve in multiple roles at Stetson, where she won awards such as the National Diversity Champion in 2016.
Johnson says she will use protests and calls for racial justice in 2020 as an opportunity for Stetson to “pay attention to the concept of belonging,” in her new position.
Michèle Alexandre, dean of Stetson University College of Law, said in the press release that Johnson’s experience makes her the right choice to push the school into the next phase of its diversity and inclusion efforts.
“A big focus (of this role) will be on our existing structures and how to enhance the services that we’re providing to our community as is,” said Johnson.
According to Stetson Today, more reports on the school’s equity and diversity climate will be published later this year.