Ervin shares plans for diversity

On Saturday, Jan. 1, Dr. Archie Ervin began his tenure as Tech’s first Vice President of Institute Diversity. A member of Institute President G. P. “Bud” Peterson’s cabinet, Ervin will take the lead in coordinating the diversity initiatives across campus.
Ervin was selected during a nationwide search that included several rounds.
“We wanted to make sure that we had strong leadership in diversity and that diverse perspectives were represented at every level,” Peterson said.
Ervin’s most recent role, as Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, had him leading efforts to develop search strategies for faculty, working on management strategies to increase the accessibility of UNC to under-represented minorities, and managing diversity programs across UNC’s 13 schools. He served in that post for five years, starting in 2005.
“[Diversity is] the opportunity to promote a broader view of academic excellence in the academy,” Ervin said when asked of his view on diversity.
At Tech he wants to expand the role of women at the Institute and increase access to Tech for lower income populations.
“I have already discovered that there is a wealth of opportunity here. I think we can better position the university if we can find ways to make and develop some benefits from the synergy of people, at least operating from a high level vision from what we’re trying to do,” Ervin said.
Several campus leaders expressed support for Ervin’s new job, but each expressed a slightly different hope for what they would like for him to accomplish at Tech.
“I do hope that Ervin’s efforts are focused not only on attaining certain benchmarks in the STEM areas, but also in developing a diversity of thought throughout our campus,” said Corey Boone, Undergraduate Student Body President.
“I hope he concentrates on retention and the strengthening of programs and organizations that already exist on campus,” said Anthony Baldridge, Graduate Student Body President.
When asked about what he hopes to do first, Ervin said he planned to take these first few weeks to get a sense of the Institute’s culture. Once acclimated, he plans on beginning work on a diversity inventory.
“I come from world where data drives decision making. And rather than go on what one’s intuition is and what people tell me, I do think there is a need for us to be able to determine and discover what kinds of things are here in terms of the way people establish the Tech campus,” he said.
Using an Aerospace Engineering program audited by NASA as an example, Ervin said he could use already existing resources to evaluate the state of diversity at Tech.
Ervin also plans on interacting with students as he carries out his initiatives. He has already met with many of the deans and cultural groups. Ervin expressed particular interest in working with the Greek community.
“I see a lot of leadership potential in that community at Tech,” Ervin said.
He has already begun by creating a student advisory board. Both Student Body Presidents have shown enthusiasm for the idea and will be providing representatives.
“Dr. Ervin’s plans to establish an advisory board is key to ensuring that the students are active participants in building a more inclusive community, and I believe that the students appointed to the board will do a fine job,” Boone said.
“The establishment of an advisory board will do great things to generate ideas of how to tackle diversity on campus and Grad SGA will be happy to send representatives….” Baldridge said.
Ervin noted that the establishment of a Vice President for Institute Diversity is an indication that diversity is a large part of Peterson’s agenda.
“[Peterson is committed to proving support to this initiative] to actually try to make Georgia Tech more nationally visible,” Ervin said, “and [to make Tech] more prominent in terms of the intellectual capabilities that are brought to bear in the faculty, in the students who are brought here, and the staff who support their obligation to the university.”

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