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Meet UA’s Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion’s final candidates

Amy Bailey

The University of Arizona has sent out several statements about COVID-19 and how the administration plans to prevent a widespread outbreak on campus.

This week, the final four candidates for the Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion were interviewed in open forums. Here’s a rundown of each candidate in case you didn’t catch them:

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Dr. Ivy Banks

Ivy Banks was the first candidate interviewed Monday, July 6. Banks is currently the Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President for Student Initiatives, Engagement and Inclusive Excellence at Northern Arizona University and previously served as Interim Director at the Office of Inclusion: Multicultural and LGBTQIA Student Services at NAU; she previously worked at the University of Phoenix and the University of Akron. 

Banks opened the forum with her essential aspects of inclusivity: community mobilization, transparency, aligning active allyships, bridging the gap between conceptualization and realization, assessment and accountability. 

Banks stressed the importance of communication and building relationships with students, staff and faculty. 

“I refer to myself as a lifelong learner and someone who is always evolving around diversity and inclusion and that means that constantly making sure that I am authentically listening,” Banks said. “That means that I show up at the student meetings, I show up at the faculty meetings, I show up at the community meetings because it’s important to hear the voice. I think of this as an opportunity for me to be able to amplify those voices but I have to make sure that I’m amplifying those voices and not my own.” 

Banks shared how she addressed a student-created list of demands when she first started at NAU. 

“There was a lot of unrest over things and issues that impacted students,” Banks said. “Meeting with those students [who created the demands] on a consistent basis so that they understand that there hasn’t been someone at the institution that forgot. We are still working on this and we are still holding ourselves accountable.” 

She also said transparency was crucial in the process of addressing the list of demands. 

Dr. Timothy Fair

Timothy Fair is one of the latest candidates for the position of Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion here on campus, interviewed Tuesday, July 7. 

Fair has university level administration experience in diversity and inclusion, acting as Associate Director of the Diversity Center at Mississippi State University, Assistant Dean of Students at Cornell University and most recently Chief of Staff in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Auburn University in Alabama. 

In Fair’s Zoom interview for the position, he was approached with several difficult questions, ranging from how to deal with systemic racism from students to administration to how he would serve different cultural groups within the university.

In response to how he would serve the UA’s Black community, Fair responded, “We must value not the commodification of Blackness, but the brilliance of Blackness. We need to remind the provost, the president, of the voices of Black students and Black affiliates across the campus that must be listened to.”

One of Fair’s central beliefs is centering and collaborating with normally marginalized groups, such as UA’s Native American population, DACA recipients and intersectional groups like LGBTQIA+ students of color, so their voices are herd at all levels within the university. 

“Collaborations internally and externally will be really important for me. We absolutely need to center the voices of students, especially those who are historically marginalized,” he said during his interview.

Dr. Jobi Martinez

The third candidate interviewed for Assistant Vice Provost of Diversity and Inclusion on Wednesday, July 8 was Jobi Martinez. Martinez has a long history of working in diversity and inclusion, graduating from Texas Tech University with a doctorate in strategic communication. 

During her open Zoom forum, she talked about how her background in media and communication prepared her for what she felt this position really was: being a “liaison” between students and administration. 

Martinez has a long history of working in diversity in higher education, starting her time after graduation working at Texas Tech University as Senior Director and Interim Managing Director/Deputy Chief Diversity Officer. One of the highlights of her career that she spoke about during the interview was the Open Teaching Concept: Teaching Diversity Across the Curriculum, which was established and successful at Texas Tech. 

She also worked as the President of the Big 12 Chapter of Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education, as well as being a diversity building consultant and serving as the Special Assistant to the President at University of Houston Downtown this past year.  

Martinez emphasized during the interview that her focus with this job will always be the students and being a voice for them. She ended the interview asking attendees of the forum what they would like to see out of this position. 

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Dr. Charlita Shelton 

Charlita Shelton was interviewed for the Associate Vice Provost of Diversity and Inclusion role on Thursday, July 9. 

Shelton has previous experience in the field of higher education as an administrator and a diversity professional. 

Shelton is currently serving as Interim Associate Chief Diversity Officer at Gonzaga University. Through this job she creates workforce development efforts in the area of diversity equity and inclusion for faculty and staff. 

Shelton has served as president/executive director of three colleges. She was a visiting scholar at both the University of Bradford in England and Ankara University in Turkey. Lastly, she has served as the Apollo Group’s Organizational Diversity Officer. 

During Shelton’s interview she was asked about her experience working with sexual violence prevention or advocacy programs. Shelton’s response was, “As a President, in terms of sexual violence, more so indirectly because in serving in a leadership capacity it is very important to address those issues.” 

Shelton was also asked about how her international experiences have influenced and informed how she intends to support and advocate for multiple marginalized populations. 

“I plan to have a great deal of international experiences with the exception of spending time in the UK and Turkey.” Shelton said. “What I found to be interesting (while in Turkey and the UK) is I thought are those issues around diversity and inclusion the same as in the U.S., it is much different because there is no action on affirmative action.” 

Shelton was also asked about her intention of advocating for the trans community. 

“We can go from the student side of it from the housing perspective to faculty perspective, and certainly staff perspective, and again this really boils down to the commitment the institution has to support all their constituencies including those individuals that happen to be trans.”

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