Paolo Zialcita/Nevada Sagebrush
A swastika painted in the Church Fine Arts Building on Friday Oct. 13. After a challenging year of diversity issues on campus, the university is looking for a Chief Diversity Officer.

After a year of challenging diversity incidents, the University of Nevada, Reno, is making headway on the search for new a Chief Diversity Officer.

The university has been in limbo in regards to diversity on campus after the sudden announcement that Chief Diversity Officer Patricia Richard would be stepping down this past May. However, the university is finally making progress on the search for a replacement after months of stagnant progression.

The university was met with several challenging incidents on campus regarding diversity issues, including swastika graffiti and a student being involved in the Charlottesville rallies. After the academic year came to a close, the Office of the President released a letter regarding Richard’s resignation. According to Johnson, Richard’s resignation brought a call for a nationwide search for someone to fill the role, although she would remain in the position until it is filled.

At the request of Patricia Richard, who is currently serving in a dual capacity role on campus, the University will move forward with a national search for a chief diversity officer,” President Johnson wrote in a statement. “The position will be full-time, dedicated to bringing elevated attention and energy to the breadth of issues and challenges we face. Patricia will remain in the current role until we have a new chief diversity officer in place.”

Although over three months have passed since Richard announced her resignation, the search has yet to begin, according to Johnson.

“During the summer I visited with — individually — about 30 people from different sections of the university to ask several questions,” Johnson said. “One was ‘what do you think the campus’ — in regard to diversity and inclusion and equity — key issues are that need to be addressed in the next five years?’. The second was ‘what are the key qualifications for the next administrator to guide equity and inclusion programs?’. With that information, I have drafted the case statement. The case statement being what is the situation related to inclusion and equity on this campus, as well as what the position will require. I am going to send this draft to everyone I spoke with this summer and get feedback to see if they agree that this case statement reflects the values that the new administrator should have. Then we will fine tune it and send it out for a national search for a new administrator to work with inclusion and equity issues — whatever those might be.

According to Johnson, there were wide ranges of answers in the interviews but there seemed to be agreeance on the definition of diversity and what the administrator should be focusing on.

“Some of the key findings were there is a broad acceptance that diversity has many dimensions,” Johnson said. “It is not just race or ethnicity. It is also ability, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, etc. While race is a key issue, there are many forms of difference. There was pretty uniform opinion that when we talk about inclusion and equity we’re talking about a whole range of differences. Another important characteristic that came out of the interviews was that the role of the administrator was not for the protection of minorities but for the exposure and education and building of respect for all people.”

According to Johnson, the university hopes to fill the position by January 1, 2019 in a nationwide search with the characteristics in mind from the numerous interviews with university students, faculty and staff.Olivia Ali can be reached at or on Twitter @OliviaNAli.