Allegheny College announced Kristin Dukes as the new dean for institutional diversity. Dukes will officially begin working for Allegheny on July 1. Dukes has previously held positions at Simmons College and Tufts University in Boston.
Kelly Boulton, sustainability coordinator of Allegheny, said the position of dean for institutional diversity evolved from the chief diversity officer position previously held by Ande Diaz.
“Whenever you are replacing a position, that’s kind of your opportunity to say, ‘is there any way we want to rethink how this position works?’” Boulton said. “And so there was some repositioning of that, to make the job description be a little bit different, but essentially it was replacing.”
Ron Cole, provost and dean of the college, said the college started pursuing the idea of hiring a dean for institutional diversity during the spring of 2017. During the fall, the college formed a search committee and opened an application process. The search committee further narrowed the list of applicants after a round of video conferences, after which, the college was left with four applicants.
“One of those four pulled themselves from the search because they had accepted a job elsewhere,” Cole said. “And then we were left with three candidates that came to campus.”
Boulton said the search committee first developed criteria they would look for in the applicants. Then, she worked with Cole to narrow down the first stage of applications.
“First, we reviewed the job description, and then worked as a committee to develop a plan for how we were going to sort through different applications, and what were the criteria we were looking for, so we were all on the same page in terms of how we were looking at the applications, how we were judging them, what we were ideally looking to bring to campus,” Boulton said.
Boulton said after she and Cole selected a smaller applicant pool, they worked with the committee to determine which ones would receive video interviews and ultimately, which candidates the committee would invite to campus.
“We took those back to the rest of the committee and said, ‘are you comfortable with these options?’ and we all went through and reviewed those applicants and then talked about them together,” Boulton said.
Cole said the on-campus component of the search process provided opportunities for members of the campus community to meet the three finalists in different settings and provide feedback.
“We had open meetings at different times during each visit, at least two separate meetings where anybody from the campus community could come and meet each of the candidates,” Cole said. “Each candidate gave a public presentation that was video recorded, and then a link to that video recording, as well as the candidate’s rèsumè, was provided to the campus community. And so anybody who was interested could have attended or watched the video presentation or reviewed the applicant’s curriculum vitae, or rèsumè. And then there was a link to an online form for providing feedback, for providing open comments and a relative ranking of the candidates.”
Boulton said one reason the college brought the finalists to campus was so the applicants could get a feel for the community.
“If you take a job at Allegheny, you’re basically joining the Meadville community,” Boulton said. “If you have kids, you need to know about the schools, you need to know about where you’ll go for dinner, or what kind of activities happen, and things like that.”
Cole said the search committee liked the experience Dukes had, including her service on advisory committees while she was at Simmons.
“There were a number of qualities that stood out to the search committee, and to the campus community, for her,” Cole said. “Those qualities include her passion for work and diversity, equity and inclusion, her experience at Simmons College and at Tufts University doing work in diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Cole said another aspect the search committee liked about Dukes was the nature of her academic work.
“Her scholarship is centered around diversity and social justice, which will lend important background to the work she will do here on campus,” Cole said.
Veronica Dantan, assistant professor of Spanish at Allegheny, served on the search committee as a representative from the Council of Diversity and Equity.
“CODE was involved in the drafting [of the job description],” Dantan said. “When the applications started arriving, the search commitee formed a subcommittee to go through them, and then we all voted on candidates to have conference interviews.”
Dantan felt Dukes was a good hire because of her experience and academic qualifications.
“She seemed also very enthusiastic about working in a community like Allegheny College, and living in a community like Meadville,” Dantan said.
Boulton said Dukes made a good candidate because of her perspective that all individuals had diversity and were thus relevant in conversations on the topic. Also, Boulton felt Dukes was able to think quickly and understand a situation well.
“She was very dynamic and very creative and very personable, and I think that is a great kind of person to bring to campus,” Boulton said.
Dukes could not be reached for comment.