UF will have its first chief diversity officer July 9 after a year in the national spotlight due to racially charged incidents.
UF President Kent Fuchs announced Tuesday that UF will be adding Antonio Farias to his cabinet as CDO and senior adviser to the president. With this addition, the university makes a stride toward more inclusive policies.
During the past year, UF faced several challenges on its grounds, including white supremacist Richard Spencer coming to campus as a speaker and an incident during the Spring graduation commencement that made national news.
“It (the incidents) certainly confirmed that we want a person that’s at the level of the senior advisor to the president and member of the cabinet that’s helping all of us,” Fuchs said.
Farias compares the cropping up of issues on diversity to the game Whac-A-Mole. He said these events are a sign that there is “something systemic in the culture that needs to be addressed.”
“And that shouldn’t be shocking because UF is a part of Florida, and Florida is part of the United States,” Farias said. “And we have a very checkered history when it comes to questions of exclusion and inclusion.”
Farias is coming to UF from Wesleyan University, where he served as the vice president for equity and inclusion. He also served as the chief diversity officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
He said his work at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy focused on cultivating leaders.
“We took these concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion, and we wove them into the DNA of what it means to develop leaders,” Farias said.
Farias’ breadth of experience is what set him apart from the other candidates for this position, Fuchs said.
Fuchs wants Farias to build relationships across campus and serve as a resource to everyone. He hopes Farias will assess UF in terms of diversity and hold members of the university accountable.
Farias’ overall goal for UF is to create a culture “that is about belonging, being authentic and excellence.”
“We shouldn’t expect a place that nothing bad happens, because that’s not realistic,” Farias said. “What my goal is, and what it’s always been in terms of how to develop leaders for changing tomorrow, is to have leaders that have the right tools in their tool box.”
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