Announcing the VC for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Dear DU community members,
It is with excitement — and with gratitude to the many groups and individuals involved in this important search — that I am pleased to announce that Dr. Christopher M. Whitt will join DU as our vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion (VC for DEI) beginning April 1, 2021.
The VC for DEI role reports directly to the chancellor and works closely with the Provost’s Office, as well as with faculty, Human Resources and Inclusive Community, and Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence, among many other campus partners. As VC for DEI, Chris is also a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet. In the VC for DEI role, Chris will champion and foster diversity at DU in all its forms — race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or ability, religious or spiritual beliefs, veteran status and political beliefs.
About Chris Whitt
Chris comes to the University of Denver from Creighton University where he has served as the school’s inaugural vice provost of institutional diversity and inclusion since February 2018. In this role, he established the school’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, where he has successfully built frameworks and structures for diversity, equity and inclusion from the ground up. Previously, Chris served as founding director of the Center for Inclusive Leadership and Equity at Augustana College. He also served as the chair of Augustana’s Department of Political Science.
Chris holds a Ph.D. in government and politics from the University of Maryland, where he also earned an M.A. His dissertation was titled “Unaffordable Outcomes: The Wealth Gap, Black Political Participation and Public Policy Outcomes in the Black Interest.” He earned a B.A. in political science at Salisbury University. Chris has been recognized nationally for his teaching as a political science professor.
"I'm eager to collaboratively lead in amplifying the successful efforts already underway at DU in diversity, equity and inclusion,” Chris says. “My goal is to provide vision for DU's and Denver's continued growth as destinations of choice. I want to help ensure individuals of myriad intersecting identities feel seen and heard while also thriving in their full and authentic humanity."
Without question, as DU moves forward with our Diversity Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, Chris’ experience will be an enormous asset. At Creighton, he led the rollout of the school’s Truth and Racial Healing Transformation Action Plan as the cornerstone of its Antiracism Plan, which included How to be an Antiracist reading groups in partnership with the Creighton Intercultural Center and the Schlegal Center for Service and Justice. He worked collaboratively with Creighton’s HR team, Title IX office and Student Life to develop a Bias Education Support Team and supported the school’s academic colleges as they constructed more unified approaches to socially just teaching, service and scholarship. He helped lead professional development training for the campus community, developed metrics to align DEI evaluation with the results of the university’s climate survey processes and sought innovative scholarship opportunities for students, such as Creighton’s $1 million partnership with Union Pacific for their Diversity Scholars Program. In these successful efforts, Chris has developed the skills our VC for DEI will need to make the cultural and structural changes the DU community is eager to see.
Chris recognizes DEI work does not exist only within the confines of campus and that a university is intrinsically linked to its location and the broader community. While at Creighton, Chris also co-founded the Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation and worked with the Place-Based Justice Network. Nationally, he is a co-founder of the Consortium for Chief Diversity Officers in Catholic Higher Education and provides leadership within the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. He has also received awards and recognition for dedication to community service and leadership.
We owe gratitude to many
The University is incredibly grateful to the many individuals who have worked diligently at advancing DEI on campus — most notably the two community members who have so ably served in this role in an interim capacity over the past two years: Professor Emeritus Arthur Jones and Tom Romero, associate professor of law and our current interim vice chancellor for DEI. Each have brought incredible passion, expertise and leadership to this role and have helped establish firm footing for the next vice chancellor. I cannot express enough how very much I appreciate their service and commitment to DU.
It is this strong foundation, along with the impressive team of colleagues within the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the potential for growth in the work already underway across campus, that drew Chris to DU. He sees the incredible history and extraordinary potential of existing DU initiatives, programs and centers, such as IRISE, the Latinx Center and our network of support for our LGBTQ+ community members.
Please join me in thanking the individuals and groups who have remained steadfast in finding us the exact right candidate for this important position.
A special thanks to our search committee:
Paul Chan, Office of General Counsel
Michele Hanna, Graduate School of Social Work
Ann Ayers, Colorado Women’s College
Ramona Beltrán, Graduate School of Social Work
Nashwa Bolling, Office of Admission and Financial Aid
Roberto Corrada, Sturm College of Law
Valentina Iturbe-LaGrave, Office of Teaching and Learning
Mary Kudoadzi, ’21 undergraduate computer science major
Lisa Martinez, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Rode Molla, Graduate Student Government and a candidate in the DU/Iliff joint doctoral program in the study of religion
Greg Moore, trustee
Nancy Wadsworth, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Bob Willis, Division of Athletics and Recreation
Claire Brownell, Office of the Chancellor
Therese Mashak, Office of the Provost
Monique Seals, Office of General Counsel
Finally, thank you to the individuals and groups who met with and interviewed Chris and the other candidates. Your insights were deeply valuable as we made this decision.
We are thrilled to welcome Chris to DU. He will be joined by his wife, Quiana, who is also an educator. Quiana is presently an administrator at a magnet high school in Omaha and looks forward to continuing her career trajectory in the Denver area. Chris and Quiana have two young sons, Christopher Jr., nearly four, and Malcolm, who turns one at the end of the month.
The Whitts love to enjoy things as a family including the outdoors, sports, reading and storytelling. They are active community members wherever they live and very much look forward to putting down strong roots in Denver.
Please join me in congratulating Chris and welcoming him and his family to Denver.