Adelphi, SBU mix it up in Island-wide diversity drive

Go West: Adelphi University has promoted Chotsani West to the newly created position of executive director of diversity and inclusion.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

From the It Takes a Village file come multiple attempts to promote inclusion at some of Long Island’s top universities, and beyond.

Just weeks after Stony Brook University announced it would steer nearly $1 million of SUNY money toward a new faculty-diversity initiative, Garden City’s Adelphi University has announced the appointment of a new vice president and new executive director of diversity and inclusion.

Adelphi’s equality effort, announced Friday, involves two faculty promotions. Jacqueline Jones LaMon, currently the associate dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as the new VP, while Chotsani West, currently, director of student mentoring, will become executive director of diversity and inclusion, a newly created position. Both appointments are scheduled to take effect Dec. 16.

And both help Adelphi serve as “a model of diversity and inclusion,” according to University President Christine Riordan, “among our chief strategic priorities and also our deepest commitments.”

Jacqueline Jones LaMon: Diversity veteran.

“We are dedicated to supporting a remarkably welcoming, inclusive and equitable community that recognizes all forms of diversity and promotes the enduring value that our university is a place for the exploration of all ideas and the pursuit of knowledge,” Riordan said Friday. “I am confident that our two new leaders will champion and cultivate our values.”

LaMon, a graduate of the UCLA School of Law, has been part of the Adelphi faculty for 13 years, serving alternately as an English professor, a department chairwoman, director of the university’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and co-chair of Adelphi’s inaugural College of Arts and Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which developed guidelines to assist search committees recruiting new faculty candidates.

West, the founder of an award-winning mentoring program for first-year students, is currently working toward a doctor of education degree at Rockville Centre’s Molloy College. She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and technology at Adelphi and joined the university faculty in 2014 as a mentoring program coordinator.

In their new elevated positions, both staffers will help Adelphi “inspire a next generation of leaders who advance justice both here and beyond our campus borders,” according to Riordan.

“Under LaMon’s and West’s leadership, Adelphi will keep striving to be an example for other institutions and communities,” the president added.

Similar goals abound at SBU, where the State University system’s new PRODiG initiative – for “Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion and Growth” – will pump $957,000 (over three years) into the recruitment of six new faculty members who can help balance SUNY’s diversity scales.

The PRODiG program aims to hire 1,000 “historically underrepresented minorities and/or women” for science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty positions across the SUNY system over the next decade, better aligning SUNY with its student population.

That ambitious agenda bodes well for SBU, where the “invaluable investment” from PRODiG “helps us to carry out our mission to promote inclusive excellence,” according to Interim Stony Brook University President Michael Bernstein.

Jarvis Watson: Regional catalyst.

“We are thrilled to support exceptional Stony Brook faculty who will enrich our campus community with their scholarship, creativity, mentorship and service,” Bernstein added.

The emphasis on diversity is not unique to these schools – Hempstead’s Hofstra University hired its first-ever diversity officer in April – or to academia: Empire State Development Corp., Albany’s main economic-development engine, recently hosted the third New York State Multicultural Creativity Summit, designed specifically to promote diversity in the state’s entertainment industries.

But on top of myriad other regional and statewide academic- and government-sponsored inclusion efforts, the newest pro-diversity developments add nicely to the regional momentum – a big win for SBU programming in particular and Long Island socioeconomics at large, according to Jarvis Watson, Stony Brook’s interim chief diversity officer.

“This initiative has not only provided a pathway for us to recruit and hire diverse faculty,” Jarvis said in a statement. “It serves as a catalyst for academic leaders from Stony Brook sites from Manhattan to Montauk to work collaboratively and intentionally to create an inclusive and equitable learning environment.”