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OSU Equity and Inclusion Blog

Who Moved My Cheese? Or, Changes.

August 31st, 2011

Back at the start of the summer, when President Ray released a statement about OSU’s equity and inclusion efforts, those of us in Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, Community and Diversity, and Women’s Advancement and Gender Equity started thinking about change.  While there is much to be excited about, transition also involves risk and can, at times, be uncomfortable.

Like mice in a maze, we start to wear a path to whatever it is we seek.  We find comfort in the consistency of our route, traversing it repeatedly in pursuit of the “cheese” awaiting us at the end.  But, what if one day, we maneuver around the twists and turns to find…nothing?  We might wonder aloud, “Who moved my cheese?”

Apparently this question is also the title of a popular book, which I haven’t actually read, but I understand to be based on one basic premise: Things change.  Of course, this message oversimplifies something much more complex.  Indeed change, undertaken for no other reason than the sake of change, can be frustrating.  On the other hand, transitions embarked on to explore greater potential hold many possibilities.

In pursuit of the latter, there have been a lot of changes in the past three months.  One of the most visible areas of transition has been staffing.  When people enter or leave an organization, take on different responsibilities, or add a new title to their business card, there are often questions.  Briefly, here are some responses:

Angelo Gomez: Angelo joined the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (OAAEO) in 1996 serving first as Equal Opportunity Investigator, then Co-Director, and eventually Director.  Effective June 1, 2011 he was asked to assume the role of Interim Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion with overall responsibility for providing vision and leadership for equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts at OSU.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, his work will include leading a University-wide self-study and external review of equity and inclusion efforts.

Anne Gillies: Anne joined the OAAEO in 1996 serving first as Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Specialist, with dual reporting to the OAAEO Director and the Academic Personnel Officer in Academic Affairs.  She then served as Employment Services Coordinator and later as Affirmative Action Associate.  The focus of Anne’s work is on the representation, retention, and advancement of individuals historically under-represented in the University.  Anne also leads the ongoing growth of the Search Advocate program, which provides participants with theory, research, and practical strategies to use when serving on search committees.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, Anne will be providing transitional leadership on matters related to women’s advancement and gender equity.  She will also be working to develop a functional leadership role with the Business Centers.

Darlene Seltzer: Darlene is new to the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI).  In fact, today is her first day!  Darlene will serve as the Office Specialist performing a variety of administrative and technical tasks for the OEI.  She will also be the first point of contact for individuals contacting the office.  We are pleased to welcome her to this new role!

Donna Champeau: Donna was appointed Director of the Office of Women’s Advancement and Gender Equity (WAGE) in 2007.  During her time as Director, Donna worked to address systemic barriers to advancement, provide professional development opportunities, and create a climate in support of equality.  On September 15, 2011, Donna will be returning to serve full-time as a faculty member in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

Donna Stevenson: Donna joined the Office of Community and Diversity in 2011 and has served as Administrative Program Assistant (APA).  She has provided support to various programs, to the Director, and to the office.

Gabriel Merrell: Gabe joined Disability Access Services in 2010 as Program Manager for Virtual and Built Environments with a dotted line reporting relationship to the OAAEO.  He will continue to work with the OEI providing leadership, technical guidance, support, and education to the campus community in ensuring the accessibility of both the technological and built environments.

Jennifer Almquist: Jennifer joined the OAAEO in 2007 serving as Administrative Coordinator, Program Associate, and then Equity and Compliance Associate.  To support the expanding efforts of the OEI, Jennifer will be directing business operations and strategic initiatives for the OEI, including ongoing programming, planning, and project management.  Her work will be growing to include the coordination and integration of the daily activities of the office as well as engagement with strategic programs, research and initiatives.  One example of her involvement in this area is her current research into the promotion and tenure experiences of women faculty at OSU.

Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul: Mirabelle joined WAGE in 2008 serving first as Assistant to the Director and then as WAGE Associate.  During her time with the office, Mirabelle provided mentoring and coaching, led the efforts of OSU Women’s Network, and served on a variety of committees such as the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Alliance.  On September 12, 2011 Mirabelle will begin a new position as Director of the Women’s Center.  Although she will not be continuing with the OEI, we look forward to working with her to address gender equity at OSU.

Roni Sue: Roni joined the OAAEO in 2008 as Equal Opportunity Associate.  She has primary responsibility for conducting and overseeing the investigation and resolution of complaints of discrimination, and for managing employee requests for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, Roni will be providing transitional leadership in creating, leading, and supporting opportunities for community engagement with equity and inclusion efforts.  This is an expansion of her previous engagement with such groups as Team Liberation and the University Housing and Dining Human Relations Advisory Board.  She will also be working to develop a functional leadership role with the Business Centers.

Terryl Ross: Terryl joined the Office of Community and Diversity in 2004.  During his time as Director, Terryl provided leadership to the Voices Project, PROMISE, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.  He also worked with colleges and departments to develop Diversity Action Plans in an effort to enhance diversity efforts at Oregon State University.  Additionally, Terryl formed significant partnerships with employers in the Corvallis community and diversity stakeholders throughout the state, including the President’s Board of Visitors.  On September 30, 2011, Terryl will be stepping down from his position as Director to produce a documentary about social justice and diversity in America.

These summaries may or may not provide the answers you were seeking, but that is largely due to the fact that we still find ourselves occupying the lacunae of this organizational change.  Frankly, all of us whose employment is directly impacted by the greater integration of equity and inclusion efforts are still trying to chart our new path forward.

We each manage these modifications to our once familiar landscapes with different strategies that fall somewhere on the (admittedly oversimplified) continuum between confusedly staring at the place where our “cheese” once was to creatively piloting ourselves along a new route to that which we seek.

Here, in the Office of Equity and Inclusion, we try to enact the latter by exploring the myriad ways to engage in our efforts to serve the campus community.  We believe that a new path emerges as we hold ourselves open to possibilities.  But, that means that this is just the update for today, and it is likely that we will continue to experience, and you will continue to see, shifts in personnel, duties, and titles.

As these changes occur, we will do our best to seek input, address questions, and mitigate disruption.  We hope you’ll continue to join us on the journey.

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