Austin Fast

Christine Taylor will be stepping into Miami University’s newly created position of associate vice president for institutional diversity March 1.

Jhan Doughty Berry, director of student retention and diverse student success, served as a co-chair of the search committee responsible for finding the best person suited to fill the new position.

According to Berry, the president’s office had the opportunity to look into diversity issues after Michael Stevenson, the former assistant to the president for institutional diversity, left the university last spring. A reshuffle of administrative position spurred them to create the position.

Carine Feyten; dean of the School of Education, Health and Society; served as the other co-chair on the search committee and said that the position is crucial for university decisions.

“Miami has a real commitment to diversity,” Feyten said. “(President David Hodge) wanted to be sure that any decisions made at the university level are mindful of issues related to diversity. He also wanted someone present at all meetings … to make diversity at the forefront of decisions.”

Feyten explained that Taylor will have a great impact on decision making as a result of her close interaction with President Hodge. She will sit on the presidential executive council and have direct access to the president with an office located in the presidential suite in Roudebush Hall.

According to Feyten, the three candidates vying for the position visited Miami’s campus this past fall-but Feyten said Taylor stood out from the others.

“Every group that met with the candidates really liked her,” Feyten said. “She is very well versed in issues of diversity. Everyone felt that she was the top candidate and that she would be able to make a difference at Miami.”

According to Berry, Taylor has been working on issues of diversity at Ohio University since 2004, but she has had 10 years of university experience.

“Her breadth of experience will help,” Berry said. “She has worked in (residential) life before, in student affairs and in other areas of a university campus. She’s from Ohio and works here and knows the state. She knows the issues that we’re facing diversity-wise as a state institution.”

Feyten explained that at Ohio University, Taylor served as assistant to the president for diversity. There, she was responsible for heading up several projects dealing with diversity, such as increasing enrollment initiatives for multicultural and low-income students, among others.

“She has quite a bit of experience,” Feyten said. “She has the background and administrative experience to carry this out at Miami.”

Besides being knowledgeable and experienced in diversity issues, both Feyten and Berry remarked on her skill in communicating and connecting with others.

“She is just so personable. She connected so well with faculty and staff when she came for a campus visit,” Berry said. “People will feel comfortable going to her and talking with her.”

Taylor was unable to be reached for comment on this story.

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