The University searches for new diversity officer


The Intercultural Diversity Center is located in the Riverside Village annex between the Riverside West and Riverside East dorms.

Camille Studebaker

The University launched a search through Desir Group for an inaugural position, Vice President/Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in August. Throughout the school year, the search committee has met and narrowed down the applicant pool, and the finalists were announced in early March.

They will each be presenting to a public forum for faculty, staff and students this week. According to UA News, the finalists in the search are as follows:

  • Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Wanda R. Heading-Grant, University of Vermont
  • The Thomas E. Skinner Professor of Law Bryan K. Fair, UA School of Law
  • Assistant Vice President for Equity and Diversity Shakeer A. Abdullah, The University of Minnesota
  • Former Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Chief Diversity Officer G. Christine Taylor, Purdue University

According to each finalist’s curriculum vitae, found at,

  • Heading-Grant “Serves as a ‘cultural architect’ responsible for driving organizational change to support a diverse, inclusive, academically and socially dynamic work and learning environment whereby faculty, students, staff and administrators thrive.”
  • As the Director of International and Diversity Programs at The University of Alabama’s School of Law from 2007-2008, Fair “Supervised the primary international and diversity programs, including the Swiss Exchange Program with The University of Fribourg, the Australian Exchange Program with the Australian National University, the International LL.M. programs, as well as working with student groups to promote diversity programs and a healthy environment for all students.”
  • Abdullah “Serves as a member of the Senior Equity and Diversity Leadership team and collaborates on the long-term planning of the office, policy development and determining new strategies and initiatives to move the Office’s and University’s equity and diversity agenda forward.”
  • Taylor is “A results-oriented visionary, recognized as a strong communicator and a proactive team builder with the ability to thrive in dynamic and changing environments.”

Heading-Grant presented a public forum on Monday, and Fair presented on Tuesday. Abdullah will present on Thursday, and Taylor will present on Friday.

“This position has campus-wide responsibility for conceptualizing an innovative framework for leading and facilitating strategic initiatives to promote a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as a fundamental institutional and educational value to be woven into UA’s culture, operations, business practices and programming,” according to the University’s position description found at