After complaints by students that the University of Maryland, College Park has not taken concerns about racial inclusion seriously, the institution announced Thursday that it tapped a national leader in diversity education to serve in the president's cabinet.
Roger L. Worthington will be the university's new chief diversity officer and will also serve as interim associate provost. He has been a professor and chair of the department of counseling, higher education, and special education in UM's College of Education since 2014. He was previously chief diversity officer and assistant deputy chancellor at the University of Missouri.
Worthington will serve as the university's chief diversity officer, but President Wallace D. Loh said he plans to elevate the position to vice president for diversity and inclusion. The previous chief diversity officer, Kumea Shorter-Gooden, resigned earlier this year, according to the campus newspaper, the Diamondback.
"He is an exceptional scholar-practitioner and leader to guide our university's efforts to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all," Loh said in a statement.
Worthington is also editor of the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, a founding member of the board of directors for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, and the principal author of the "Standards of Professional Practice for Chief Diversity Officers."
"I have dedicated my life's work to advancing difficult dialogues and creating a culture of inclusion in higher education," he said in the UM statement. "The University of Maryland was once a national leader for diversity in higher education. In the face of tremendous tragedy, we can come together as a community to achieve transformational change and return to being a model of equity and social justice."
The move comes after the university has been rocked by a series of racial incidents. In May, a black Bowie State University student was stabbed to death on the College Park campus. A white UM student was charged in the death. Police are investigating whether the killing was a hate crime.
Some students have complained that the university has not responded seriously enough to previous racial incidents. A noose was also found in a fraternity house in April and white supremacist posters were found around the campus earlier this year.