North Texas Daily

UNT hires vice president for diversity and inclusion

UNT hires vice president for diversity and inclusion

April 02
20:58 2015

Julian Gill / Staff Writer

UNT President Neal Smatresk said four people were on a short list of potential candidates to become the new vice president for diversity and inclusion at UNT, but only one wove her experience into a compelling narrative. Joanne Woodard was chosen to start her new position this summer at UNT.

“Her ability to be persuasive and clear in communication is one that I view as very, very valuable to our campus,” Smatresk said.

Woodard worked at North Carolina State University for 26 years. Originally teaching undergraduate courses in U.S. and African-American history, she served as vice provost for institutional equity and diversity since 2011.

“There are a lot of similarities between UNT and North Carolina State,” she said.  “It is bit larger by maybe about 2,000 students, and you have about the same amount of colleges. But North Texas has really great programs that we don’t have, particularly as it relates to music and the arts.”

A UNT search firm contacted Woodard, who was recently recognized by the Triangle Business Journal with the Leadership in Diversity Award in September, and asked if she would be interested in the position. Woodard said one of the first things she will do upon her arrival is take the time to familiarize herself with the student groups in the community.

“It’s positive for students to be able to look at the vice presidents of the university and see someone that they can identify with and who looks like them,” Black Student Union president Cherita Cunningham said.

Smatresk says the vice president for diversity and inclusion is primarily responsible for attracting and retaining a more diverse faculty and staff, ensuring a positive climate on campus and engaging the communities around Denton.

“NC State is a tier one school, so hopefully she’ll be able to help us with the faculty and staff recruiting pieces and the retention pieces,” Smatresk said.

He said UNT is a very diverse school, but it still has room for improvement.

“We’re not as diverse as my past two institutions, so we’ve got a ways to go.” Smatresk said.  “We’d like to be a minority serving institution and a Hispanic serving institution. You can always improve in creating a better climate on your campus.”

Woodard said she doesn’t have an exact agenda of what she plans to do yet, but this summer she will begin to formulate a plan in concert with UNT’s strategic goals.

She said it’s important to get to know the university before she create any diversity initiatives.

“Some people think [this job] is cookie cutter but it’s not,” Woodard said. “You really can’t pick up the same things you do at one school and think you’re going to plop them down at another school.”

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