UC hires new VP for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion


Source: utica.edu

Maria Montero Silva, Editor-in-Chief

Anthony Baird will officially join UC May 1

Anthony Baird has been chosen UC’s new Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer, President Laura Casamento announced in a campus-wide email on March 13.

Baird, a UC alumnus, will officially join the college May 1 although this week, he will begin checking in with students who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Casamento said. 

With this, UC concludes a six-month national search to find the person who will directly report to Casamento on how to improve the experience of students from underrepresented populations at UC, including retention and graduation numbers among those groups.

In February, Baird and three other candidates visited the UC campus and participated in open sessions with community members. From there, the search committee gathered feedback and gave their recommendations to Casamento, who made the final decision.

“The attributes that ‘sealed the deal’ include his passion about student development, commitment to service-centeredness and collaboration, confidence, and innovation, with an exceptional record of achievement and a demonstrated ability to articulate a vision and the path to getting there,” Casamento said.

About Baird’s campus visit, Casamento explained how “incredibly approachable” he was towards UC community members, who were “drawn to him.”

“I am confident that Dr. Baird will ensure that issues of diversity, equity and inclusion always remain at the forefront of discussion,” Casamento said.

Provost Todd Pfannestiel led the search committee, which was made up of faculty, staff and students. The committee reviewed thousands of applications and selected Baird from an “amazingly strong” pool of candidates.

Pfannestiel said what stood out to him is Baird’s understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education, proposals and, especially his passion for UC.

“The last one, passion for and knowledge of UC really helped to make a difference,” Pfannestiel said.

The provost explained that Baird brings the determination to build upon the experience of all members of the UC community, “not just students or employees from underrepresented populations.”

“All of the feedback, 100% of it, thus far has been very positive about Anthony joining our family,” Pfannestiel said. “And I’m all the more impressed that the feedback has come even as we face so many current challenges and disruption due to the pandemic.”

Baird’s hiring announcement came on the last day of on-ground classes before the college closed public access to the main campus to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus. Casamento said she made the announcement public as soon as it became official. 

“Announcing Anthony’s hire at this time reminds everyone that we continue to move ahead during these trying times,” Pfannestiel said. “And a bright future awaits all of us at UC.”