Dr. Rodmon King, who has served as the Centre College associate vice president for academic affairs and diversity initiatives since November 30, 2015, is leaving this summer to pursue a similar role at the State University of New York at Oswego beginning July 2. As the chief diversity and inclusion officer, King will report directly to President Deborah F. Stanley and serve as a member of her cabinet.
The opportunity represents something of a homecoming, bringing King back near his hometown in upstate New York, where he also attended college, earning his B.A. in religion and philosophy at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy at the University of Rochester. King came to Centre from William and Hobart Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York.
He said the opportunity to be part of a SUNY system-wide initiative to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion was enticing.
“I leave Centre grateful for what we were able to achieve during my time here,” King reflected, “and I have gained immeasurable experience that will prepare me well for the challenges ahead.”
Centre President John A. Roush was quick to say that King had a “measurable and constructive impact for good” in a number of key areas. “I admire his energy, commitment and drive, which have left a positive imprint on the campus.”
King said he would look back with pride on a number of things that the campus community has accomplished, of which he has been a part. This incudes a variety of diversity and inclusion programming efforts that involved not just students, faculty and staff but also fostered dialogue with the local community and involved events sponsored by Centre’s Norton Center for the Arts.
“We have also been able to achieve a more collaborative approach in the human resources office to centralize the values of diversity and inclusion in the hiring of faculty and staff,” he said.
Tied to this, King led the effort that resulted in the creation of the new Greater Kentucky chapter of the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), a non-profit consortium of more than 700 educational, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations that share a commitment to hire the most diverse and talented employees. This has been especially helpful in the effort to attract dual-career couples.
Related, King helped create a new coordinator of diversity and inclusion programming staff position and an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer role to support diversity and inclusion efforts.
In addition, he initiated campus-wide diversity dialogue training, along with workshops addressing implicit bias and microaggressions. He was also responsible for the recent launch of a diversity and inclusion climate survey for faculty and staff. Conducted in partnership with Dr. Anita Davis, who leads diversity efforts for the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS), of which Centre and 15 other institutions are members, survey results will ultimately be compared with other ACS schools.
King’s arrival coincided with a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York to enhance diversity and inclusion on campus, part of which funded the climate survey.
The grant also supported enhanced recruitment of faculty, and it specifically funded two tenure-track positions, one each in the humanities and social sciences. This resulted in the hiring of faculty in studio art and sociology. As part of its commitment to extending the grant’s impact into the natural sciences, Centre also hired a mathematics professor, and through King’s work, Centre added a tenure-track faculty member in Spanish.
“Rodmon has been a valued colleague, and he will be missed,” said Stephanie Fabritius, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College.
“He has been instrumental in helping us rethink and enhance our work with faculty recruitment and search committee processes, as well as think more broadly about issues of faculty recruitment and retention,” she added.
“His work extends well beyond the faculty, though, and Rodmon has been a positive force on the institutional level. While I join many others who will miss him, we will continue the important work he initiated.”
The national search for a successor will begin in the late summer or early fall, and an interim chief diversity officer is in the process of being appointed.
King’s final day at Centre will be June 29.
by Michael Strysick
April 19, 2018