Correction: Dr. Eloisa Gordon-Mora’s name was spelled incorrectly in the initial article.
The University of Nevada, Reno, has announced Dr. Eloisa Gordon-Mora will be the new Diversity and Inclusion Officer.
Dr. Gordon-Mora is set to move to Reno and begin her job as the Diversity and Inclusion Officer in June 2019. The university formed a committee to conduct a nationwide search and make a recommendation to President Marc Johnson after Patricia Richard’s resignation in May 2018.
The committee included directors, professors, students and deans from various colleges on campus. This included ASUN Director of Diversity and Inclusion Arezo Amerzada, student Sophie Coudrier, Reynolds School of Journalism Dean Dr. Alan Stavitsky, Transfer Recruitment Coordinator Kari Emm, Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Director Maria Doucettperry and Associate Professor Dr. Sherif Elfass. The committee was led by co-chairs, Vice President of Student Services Shannon Ellis and Director of Core Humanities Dr. Daniel Enrique Perez.
Also among the team were HR Manager Michelle Briggs and search coordinator Aubrey Flores. Search coordinator Flores said there were 31 applicants from across the nation.
Dr. Gordon-Mora outlined her primary orders of business to be familiarizing herself with the campus and its various groups.
“My most immediate desire is to start meeting as many folks as I can,” Gordon-Mora said. “I want to meet different groups, different student organizations, administrations, staff … I want to start learning from a more personal experience — how they see the landscape.”
Dr. Gordon-Mora feels prepared to take on the diversity struggles the university has faced in the last couple years, believing her past experience will be of help.
“There is not a unique phenomenon of Reno or Nevada or UNR,” Gordon-Mora said. “It’s just one more example of phenomenons that are taking place. Because I have been engaged in issues of diversity, questions of violence, questions of poverty, I think that all my experience has been on facing extreme challenges … I think I have a good background on facing challenges.”
Prior to taking the position at the university, Gordon-Mora served as the Dean of the School of Social Science, Humanities and Communications at Universidad Ana. G Méndez in San Juan, Puerto Rico. From 2015-2017, she served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Universidad del Sagrado Corazon. In 2018, Gordon-Mora returned to Universidad Ana G. Méndez as the director of special projects with a focus on diversity and citizenship.
Gordon-Mora also has experience in the private sector, having worked at advocacy groups in New York City in the realm of victim assistance, violence and diversity.
Prior to the beginning of the nationwide search, President Johnson met with over 30 people to understand the campus climate.
“During the summer I visited with — individually — about 30 people from different sections of the university to ask several questions,” Johnson told the Nevada Sagebrush in August 2018. “One was ‘what do you think the campus’ — in regard to diversity and inclusion and equity — key issues are that need to be addressed in the next five years?’. The second was ‘what are the key qualifications for the next administrator to guide equity and inclusion programs?’. With that information, I have drafted the case statement. The case statement being what is the situation related to inclusion and equity on this campus, as well as what the position will require. I am going to send this draft to everyone I spoke with this summer and get feedback to see if they agree that this case statement reflects the values that the new administrator should have. Then we will fine tune it and send it out for a national search for a new administrator to work with inclusion and equity issues — whatever those might be.”
In addition to personal interviews to assess the campus climate, the university rolled out a Campus Climate Survey in partnership with Rankin and Associates Consulting. The data from the survey will be used to outline specific measures Dr. Gordon-Mora should take upon starting the job, according to Dr. Gordon-Mora.
After the interviews, the nationwide search opened. From there, a committee went over applications and conducted interviews of applicants they saw fit for the job. The number of applicants was then narrowed down to four, which then all conducted an open forum.
Richard’s resignation was called for throughout the 2017-2018 school year while the university was struggling with the aftermath of university student Peter Cvjetanovic’s involvement in the Charlottesville white supremacist rallies. Additionally, the University Police Services came under fire for multiple incidents, including an officer’s Colin Kaepernick costume and a traffic stop where an officer said he was “going to shoot him if things go sideways.”
Kevin McReynolds, graduate student driving the car in the traffic stop, publicly called for Richard to step down from the position, stating her dual-role was not demonstrating her dedication to diversity. Richard was serving as the Chief Diversity Officer alongside her position as President Johnson’s Chief of Staff.
“I’m not saying she needs to be fired, I’m just saying that she needs to pick one,” McReynolds said in December 2017. “You signal to all the students that are minorities that we don’t matter to you, we’re worth one-third of your time. If she’s the best we come up with [in the nationwide search], she’s the best we come up with. But I think there needs to be a real effort.”
Olivia Ali can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @OliviaNAli.