When the topic of diversity was presented at the fall 2012 Delegates’ Agenda, university President Elizabeth Stroble broke the standard of waiting to respond. Stroble stood up after the presentation to talk about how diversity was an important issue for her in particular. She said making Webster University more diverse and accepting would be an evolving process.
The delegates’ main request was for the university to hire a chief diversity officer to lead diversity projects.
“Problems such as following a black student around a bookstore will not happen,” delegate Kayla Thompson said. “Telling a homosexual student to ‘gay it down’ will not occur. Having a faculty member say to a student that their religion is wrong will not take place if we have a chief diversity officer.”
Nicole Roach was named associate vice president for diversity and Inclusion in August, the first ever in the university’s history. The position was made to deal with the responsibilities of a chief diversity officer. Roach was formerly the director of Webster’s downtown campus at the Old Post Office.
In February. the university held the Global Inclusion and Diversity Summit to prompt discussion on diversity issues and how to move forward. Lee Gill, chief diversity officer at the University of Akron in Ohio, said at the summit that Webster needed to hire a chief diversity officer if they are going to seriously address the problem.
“You got to have an office and person with the autonomy and the charge from the president,” Gill said.
Stroble told The Journal that they were not ready to begin considering hiring someone for the position. But it would be considered late down the line.