URI appoints first Chief Diversity Officer

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KINGSTON, R.I. – January 7, 2011 – The University of Rhode Island has appointed Kathryn A. Friedman, the former executive director of diversity and equity at the University of Vermont, to the new position of associate vice president for community, equity and diversity. She began work on an interim basis on Jan. 4.

Reporting to URI President David M. Dooley, Friedman will supervise the URI Women’s Center, Multicultural Center, LGBT Center, the Bias Incident Response Team, and the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.

“One of the major goals of our academic plan and my vision for URI is for the University to be an exemplary community built on a foundation of diversity and equity,” said Dooley. “This means that diversity and equity must become ingrained in the full array of work of the entire University. Our chief diversity officer will guide this integration. This position is critical to achieving our goals.”

Friedman will be a member of the president’s leadership team and be responsible for advising Dooley on all issues related to diversity, equity, and the development of a vibrant and diverse community of students, staff and faculty. She will also design and implement an assessment system for monitoring the University’s progress toward advancing diversity in the community.

“I am so very pleased that Kathryn Friedman has accepted this position to help us begin this critical work and to help shape the most important functions of this new position,” Dooley said. “She is extremely well qualified to pave the way and transform the concept of community here at URI. She is an accomplished academic administrator, and we are fortunate that she is willing to guide our strategic advancement of diversity as a core institutional value and strength.”

In her role at UVM, Friedman was the architect and leader of the University’s Diversity and Equity Unit. She increased the numbers of women and minorities hired as faculty and staff and revamped the discrimination complaint process. She established a series of annual diversity programs, including a Translating Identity Conference, a Dismantling Rape Conference, and a Women of Color Conference, and she instituted mandatory diversity recruitment plans in every division of the University.

Previously, Friedman was the director of affirmative action and equal opportunity at Wesleyan University and worked in the affirmative action offices at Old Dominion University and the City of Norfolk, Va. She has also served as an organizational development consultant.

Friedman earned a bachelor’s degree from C.W. Post University and an MFA from Western Illinois University. She also holds a mediation certificate from the University of Connecticut.

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.