Colorado College is pleased to announce that Peony Fhagen will join the CC community as the new senior associate dean for equity, inclusion, and faculty development, and Rosalie M. Rodriguez will join CC as the senior associate dean of students for equity and inclusion/director of the Butler Center. Additionally, Barbara J. Wilson has been named to serve as the interim director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for staff.
To enhance and accelerate the work of the new DEI leadership team, CC Board of Trustees Chair Susie Burghart ’77 has donated $1 million to further the college’s Antiracism Initiative.
“I wanted to underscore how important this initiative is to all of us — as educators, parents, students, staff, and alumni,” Burghart says. “These experts will guide the college in long-needed work that is now even more crucial. This is a moment when CC can lead and make a difference.”
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are top priorities at Colorado College, and rather than relying on one chief diversity officer to lead CC’s antiracism initiative, CC has elevated the leadership of this work to a three-person team, in which one member of the team will focus on the academic program; a second on students; and a third on employees and college business relations.
Claire Oberon Garcia, dean of the faculty and chair of the search committee for the senior associate dean for equity, inclusion, and faculty development, noted that the traditional chief diversity officer model which was recommended in the Antiracism External Review conducted at CC, has failed at other colleges and universities, is not an effective way of transforming an institution structurally and culturally, and is not consistent with CC’s decentralized, non-hierarchical culture.
“Colorado College’s commitment to become an antiracist institution compels us to make substantive changes all areas of college life and activity,” Garcia says. “To combat racist ideas, policies, and behaviors, we must develop and implement antiracist ideas, policies, and behaviors. We can only do this on the ground level, with the guidance of people who have deep expertise in the areas of academics, human resources, and student life.”
As senior associate dean for equity, inclusion, and faculty development at Colorado College, Fhagen will be responsible for advancing and implementing the antiracism goals in the academic realm. She will work with faculty to diversify the faculty and curriculum, develop inclusive pedagogies, and improve the classroom experience. All academic departments and programs are already in the process of evaluating the structures of their majors and minors, their curricula and their hiring practices through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. Fhagen also will be creating a new and meaningful program of professional development for faculty through all stages of their career from candidacy to mid-career to emiritx that recognizes CC’s commitment to be an institution that values each employee and helps them to thrive, says Garcia.
Fhagen most recently served as associate provost of diversity and faculty development at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, where she co-developed and co-chaired a diversity, equity, and access leadership program that monitored and supported diversity, equity, and inclusion across campus. In addition, she managed Title IX and discrimination concerns and complaints involving faculty; developed and led workshops and faculty forums on teaching, learning, and diversity; and chaired the campus scholar-at-risk committee. Fhagen is an associate professor of psychology and African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, and chaired the Wheaton Psychology Department for several years, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wellesley College and a Master of Science in clinical psychology and Ph.D. in developmental psychology, both from Pennsylvania State University.
“Dr. Fhagen brings a wealth of experience in thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion issues with creativity and generosity,” Garcia says. “When her previous institution decided to hire an inaugural chief diversity officer, she proposed instead a collaborative model of diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership similar to our own at CC.”
Rodriguez most recently served as director of multicultural student services at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where she served as a primary source of contact for students of color, with a focus on advising, mentoring and connecting students to resources that assisted them with their academic, social, and personal well-being. She also facilitated campus-wide diversity education, training, and professional development opportunities. Prior to that, Rodriguez served as special assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. She has a Bachelor of Science in biocommunication from Juniata College, and a Master of Arts in community psychology and social change from Pennsylvania State University.
As the new senior associate dean of students/director of the Butler Center, Rodriguez will focus on antiracism, equity, and inclusion in student life. This will allow the Butler Center to focus on student support, as was its original intent, and also continue to work campus-wide via the collaborative leadership team.
“I am thrilled to have Rosalie join the Colorado College community. She brings with her an interdisciplinary perspective of antiracism and extensive experience working with students to find their entry point into social justice work,” says Manya Whitaker, associate professor of education, chair of the Education Department, interim director of the Butler Center, advisor to the Black Student Union, and search committee chair. “The search committee was looking for someone with demonstrated experience working across divisions as they are going to be a member of a three-person team designed to do just that. We also wanted someone to whom students could connect and also view as an advocate, especially during contentious moments on campus.”
Wilson currently is employed at Colorado College as the associate vice president for administrative services. In response to campus feedback, the position of director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for staff is being revised to elevate its reporting structure to a similar level as the other two positions and will be housed in Finance & Administration.
Wilson has been at Colorado College since August 2000 when she was hired as director of Human Resources. The role included working with staff to resolve issues of discrimination and harassment complaints. Wilson served as the deputy Title IX coordinator for staff from 2012-18. From 2013-15 she served as chair and co-chair on the faculty and staff diversity action team that focused on recruitment and retention issues. Wilson is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.
“I am very pleased and grateful that Barbara has agreed to continue to serve the college in this interim role,” says Robert G. Moore, senior vice president for Finance and Administration. “She brings years of experience in working with the staff of the college and a personal dedication to the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.” A national search for the position will be conducted in Spring 2021.
The team will be dedicated to the college’s diversity and inclusion goals, lead strategic implementation, and keep antiracism efforts at the front and center at the college’s priorities. While most hiring at the college has been put on hold due to the ramifications of the pandemic, the diversity, equity, and inclusion positions continue to be a priority and have moved ahead.