As a part of their search for a new Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, Bates Title IX Officer Gwen Lexow and Assistant Director of Campus Life Nick Dressler held a listening session last Friday. The session was designed to give students a space to discuss the kinds of traits and ideas that they felt would be important in a candidate for the position. Though sparsely attended, the listening session successfully sparked conversation for those in the room.

The title of Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion is a new name for an existing position, previously known as the Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity. The new name is meant to reflect changes in the responsibilities involved the position that have taken place naturally over the last few years.

According to Lexow, while the holder of the position had previously overseen the Office of Intercultural Education’s (OIE) programming, the search committee is now hunting for someone who will be more focused on big picture issues rather than day to day operations.

“This [position] is not work that sits in one office. This is work that sits everywhere,” said Lexow.

Lexow and Dressler came to the meeting as representatives of a larger search committee. The committee includes four faculty members, four staff members, and is in the process of seating two student representatives.

Each student representative will have an equal say in committee matters. In addition to Friday’s listening session, another student session will take place on Thursday, February 15. On the in between, a listening session will be held for staff members on Monday and faculty members on Wednesday. The focus on including multiple parts of the Bates community in the search process as either committee members or through a listening session is something that Lexow feels is important because of the scope of the job.

“This person has to be able to interact with and earn the trust of a variety of constituents,” said Lexow.

When asked what they personally considered key attributes of a candidate for the position, Dressler and Lexow both said that they felt that an ability to listen to a wide variety of people, acknowledge different experiences and a focus on social justice issues on campus were important qualities in an ideal candidate.

“I think with regards to students, we want someone with a firm grasp of Student Development Theory, especially Student Development Theory not rooted in dominant identities,” said Dressler.

Dressler went on to explain that Student Development Theory is a mode of thinking that focuses on finding a variety of ways to get students to learn successfully. For Dressler the ultimate goal of Student Development Theory is to level the playing field for all students.    

Though only one student not from The Bates Student was present at this meeting, conversations on a variety topics relating to the position and campus life took place.

Both Dressler and Lexow are hoping for increased student participation at their next listening session and noted that students wishing to share their input can reach the committee through emailing avpequitysearch@bates.edu.

The search committee hopes to have a list of semi-finalists to interview for the position by the middle of April, and to ultimately have a select group of finalists come to campus and interact with students, faculty and staff in May.