This chief diversity officer has cleared many hurdles

All clear: From the 1984 Olympic medal podium to the halls of academia, Judith Brown Clarke, Stony Brook University's new chief diversity officer, has been a leader and a winner.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Diversity continues to drive destinies at Long Island’s top universities, with another major appointment focused on inclusion.

This time, it’s Stony Brook University again, announcing this week the appointment of Judith Brown Clarke – a longtime educator, respected researcher and world-class athlete – as its new chief diversity officer, effective Feb. 17.

Clarke, currently diversity director at Michigan State University’s Bio-Computational Evolution in Action Consortium Science and Technology Center, will take a seat on SBU’s University Council and work with various campus partners “to promote a culture … that values diversity and embraces equality and inclusion,” according to Stony Brook.

Her appointment comes just months after Hempstead’s Hofstra University named its first-ever diversity officer and a week after Garden City’s Adelphi University named a new vice president and new executive director of diversity and inclusion.

Gold-medal mind: Judith Brown Clarke today.

Clarke – a 1984 Olympic silver medalist (400-meter hurdles), three-time Pan American Games champion and 1987 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year, among other athletic achievements – also arrives on the heels of Empire State Development Corp.’s third New York State Multicultural Creativity Summit, which promoted diversity in the state’s entertainment industries, and days after SBU announced a fresh $1 million investment in a new faculty-diversity initiative.

With inclusion playing large across academia and industry – and SBU already knee-deep in an ambitious Plan for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity – Clarke’s myriad experiences with multiculturalism and strategic planning will pay off handsomely, according to Interim Stony Brook University President Michael Bernstein, who trumpeted the new CDO’s “more than 16 years guiding senior-management teams and diversity initiatives.”

“We are confident that Judi Brown Clarke has the experience, skillset and creativity needed to astutely guide the implementation of Stony Brook University’s Plan for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity and advance the overarching goal of building an inclusive Stony Brook community,” Bernstein said in a statement.

As diversity director for the BEACON Science and Technology Center, Clarke was responsible for integrating inclusion strategies into programs conducted by the 450-member, National Science Foundation-founded research consortium, which unites Michigan State, the University of Idaho, the University of Washington, the University of Texas-Austin and North Carolina AT&T State University.

Judith Greiman: Passion, commitment mark Clarke.

Among other efforts in support of BEACON’s strategic goals, Clarke designed cross-cultural presentations, workshops and “learning modules” and created a comprehensive reporting system “to effectively monitor, analyze and benchmark institutional/consortium progress in diversity and equity management,” according to SBU.

The renowned researcher, who earned a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Michigan State and a PhD in Public Policy and Administration from Western Michigan University, also managed undergraduate research programs across the BEACON partner schools, a two-pronged effort to both attract underrepresented students to STEM programs and create a database to track the consortium’s strategic diversity plans.

A member of several prestigious scientific and professional associations, including Sigma Xi (a.k.a. the Scientific Research Honor Society) and the International Women’s Forum, Clarke has the perfect background to serve as SBU’s new diversity chief, according to Judith Greiman, the university’s senior vice president for government and community relations.

“Dr. Clarke brings a wealth of academic and senior-management experience, coupled with a deep personal connection and commitment to building inclusive communities,” Greiman added. “She is passionate about integrating diversity into workplace practices and universities, with significant experience reaching out to students, faculty, staff and the community.”