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Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Swarthmore College

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Executive Administration Jobs
Vice Presidents
Administrative Jobs
Institutional & Business Affairs, Diversity & Inclusion
Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Job Details

Job no: 495214
Work type: Full Time
Location: Swarthmore
Categories: Administration, Staff, Salary (Exempt)

Executive Summary

Swarthmore College provides learners of diverse backgrounds a transformative liberal arts education grounded in rigorous intellectual inquiry and empowers all who share in our community to flourish and contribute to a better world. –Swarthmore College Mission Statement

Swarthmore College, a distinctive private liberal arts institution of international reach and reputation, founded in the Quaker tradition and entering its third century of educational excellence, is seeking its inaugural vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion (VPDEI).

This newly created position will lead the development of a comprehensive, cohesive diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy that defines the College's DEI priorities and goals. Reporting directly to President Valerie Smith, this leader will serve as a key strategic advisor to the president and a vital member of the president’s Staff.

Founded in 1864 by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) as one of the earliest coeducational colleges in the United States, Swarthmore today is nonsectarian, but it still reflects many Quaker traditions and values. Foremost among them are commitments to civic engagement, the pursuit of knowledge, respect for the natural world, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As one of its primary learning goals, Swarthmore seeks to ensure that students engage with different cultures, ideas, institutions, and means of expression in ways that enable the critical examination of their own perspectives and broaden their sense of themselves and others.

To submit a nomination or express personal interest in this position, please see Procedure for Candidacy at the end of this document.

Role of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Swarthmore seeks an intellectually engaged, courageous, collaborative, strategic, and inspirational leader with a record of building programs and partnerships and a commitment to the central role of diversity, equity and inclusion in all areas of the residential liberal arts experience. The inaugural VPDEI will possess the ability to create a coherent, sustainable, and aspirational vision for DEI work at Swarthmore, collaborate with campus partners and advance that work purposefully and effectively. They will assess existing DEI programs and initiatives, identify opportunities, address challenges, set priorities, and collaborate with colleagues across campus to inform and develop the strategic vision for DEI at Swarthmore College.

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated skill in collecting and using data to assess programs; familiarity with and support of shared accountability in an academic setting; significant strengths in supervising, coaching, and mentoring; and the capacity to bring together community resources in support of institutional change and growth.

While every office engaged in equity and inclusion work will not report to this position, as the institutional leader in this area, the VPDEI will set the tone and vision for DEI work for the College overall, and consultation and collaboration with other offices is essential.

This position reports directly to the president and will be a key member of the president’s senior staff.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Swarthmore College

"The future of our democracy depends upon our ability to create inclusive and equitable communities to which everyone is invited to contribute their ideas, gifts, and enthusiasm." President Valerie Smith

Central to Swarthmore’s mission is the idea that the College must prepare all students for success in work, in life, and as globally engaged citizens. Through strategically prioritizing access, the College has committed to creating a more welcoming campus, supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds, honoring multiple intersecting identities, and committing to inclusive and expansive definitions of diversity, including but not limited to, ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender expression, gender identity, national origin, sexual orientation, and race.

The VPDEI will play a pivotal role in envisioning and advocating for concrete diversity, inclusion and community engagement goals that align with and support the College’s strategic imperatives. These goals include continuing to make positive practical changes to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion for all students, faculty, and staff.

Among the many assets the new vice president will find at Swarthmore are faculty, staff, and students who are deeply committed to the institution and to advancing inclusive excellence. However, current initiatives could benefit from greater coordination and collaboration. The VPDEI will work collaboratively to build on, modify, and/or create the structures needed to serve the College with a consistent approach to inclusive excellence.

Current student-facing DEI programs and centers include the Black Cultural Center, First-Gen/Low Income Program, Intercultural Center, Interfaith Center, International Student Center, Student Disability Services, the Women’s Resource Center as well as multiple fellowship opportunities in support of both academic and inclusive excellence.

DEI initiatives focused on faculty and academic matters are driven by the Provost’s Office, including faculty development initiatives, curricular support through a newly launched Teaching and Learning Commons, mentoring programs, as well as recruitment and retention of a diverse and excellent faculty.

The DEI team, composed of the assistant vice president of human resources, the associate dean of the faculty for diversity, recruitment and retention, the associate dean for inclusive excellence, and the assistant director of athletics for internal operations, tracks current DEI efforts and focuses on ways to collaborate with campus partners on DEI programs and initiatives.

Opportunities and Expectations for Leadership

The vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion will:

  • Provide vision, leadership, and a framework to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community for faculty, students, and staff and the broader community, including alumni and families, and to set clear DEI priorities through a coordinated, cohesive plan for inclusive excellence at the College;
  • Coordinate all diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the College, partnering with staff and faculty members to review, evaluate, enhance and coordinate current programs and initiatives including recruitment of students, faculty and staff; Identify opportunities for institutional investments and re- organization in areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Serve as a subject matter expert, providing advice and counsel to the President, the President’s Staff, and other campus constituencies;
  • Oversee the Title IX Office and its staff;
  • Partner with the Teaching and Learning Commons to support faculty and students;
  • Partner with the DEI team to oversee training/education initiatives and identify opportunities that advance a campus climate in which members of the Swarthmore community feel welcomed, valued, and supported;
  • Collaborate with student leaders;
  • Develop metrics and procedures to track institutional trends and increase accountability through qualitative and quantitative assessments of diversity and equity programs, policies, and services;
  • Oversee the implementation of initiatives recommended by the Land Acknowledgement Task Force;
  • Serve as the administrative liaison to the Board of Managers Social Responsibility Committee
  • Administer the President’s Fund for Racial Justice
Professional Qualifications and Personal Qualities

Candidates should have a demonstrated commitment to the values and goals of Swarthmore’s private, residential, liberal arts education; a history of significant organizational leadership and of managing institutional change; and the demonstrated ability to foster an institutional climate that values community, civility, and mutual respect.

Swarthmore welcomes applications from candidates with relevant experience within or outside of the academy.

  • Master's or other advanced degree;
  • Minimum seven years of relevant experience;
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusive excellence, including a record of individual action and institutional leadership;
  • Ability to build consensus and advance a strategic agenda;
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to speak confidently and persuasively to a variety of audiences; superb written communication skills;
  • Expertise in theory, concepts, issues, and best practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion;
  • Experience designing or applying policy interventions regarding equity and inclusion.
  • Exceptional cultural competence as well as a proven ability to advance difficult and challenging conversations relating to diversity, equity and inclusion;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and/or success in planning and implementing equity and inclusion programming;
  • Ability to manage difficult subjects and sensitive information with confidentiality;
  • Knowledge of relevant laws, regulations, and guidelines related to diversity and nondiscrimination in higher education;
  • Experience gathering, analyzing, and utilizing data to develop and assess programs; providing guidance and recommendations for necessary improvements;
  • Experience in budgeting and financial management.
  • A PhD or other terminal degree;
  • A keen intellectual interest in higher education generally and, more specifically, in the significance of the liberal arts;
  • Substantial leadership experience in diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education or other non- profit institutions;
  • A compelling vision of inclusive excellence in a residential liberal arts college setting;
  • Significant and successful experience creating, implementing, and overseeing institutional diversity, equity and inclusion programs within an academic environment; and
  • Demonstrated sensitivity, imagination, and effectiveness in responding to challenging college community issues.
LeadershipPresident Valerie Smith, Ph.D.

Valerie Smith, a distinguished scholar of African American literature, is the 15th president of Swarthmore College, where her priorities include strengthening and expanding initiatives focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion; supporting curricular innovation; improving the campus’s facilities and infrastructure; ensuring the College fulfills its commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2035; and strengthening relationships between the College and the region.

Under Smith’s leadership, the College has raised significant financial resources for students, including more than $110 million for financial aid during the recent Changing Lives, Changing the World campaign, which concluded in 2020. This unprecedented support will help the College continue to diversify its student body, including by supporting more low-income and first-generation students. Swarthmore remains one of the few colleges in the country to practice need-blind admissions — admitting domestic students regardless of their ability to pay tuition.

In 2020, amid escalating instances of racial violence and xenophobia across the country, President Smith established the President’s Fund for Racial Justice, which supports programs focused on transformative racial justice and curricular and co-curricular initiatives that promote engaged scholarship, especially those in the local and regional communities.

Now in her ninth year as president, Smith is also overseeing the greatest transformation of the campus's buildings and infrastructure in Swarthmore history. In 2020, the College opened Maxine Frank Singer Hall, the new home of Swarthmore’s biology, psychology, and engineering departments. The building features flexible classrooms, state-of-the-art laboratories, and numerous spaces for collaborative activity. Renovations on Martin Hall, an interdisciplinary space for Computer Science and Film & Media Studies,

will begin in spring 2023. Phase one of a new Dining and Community Commons opened in October 2022. Phase two of the project will add a community commons to campus for the first time in decades. Smith prioritized this project to reimagine the social and dining experiences that are central to Swarthmore’s ability to fulfill its mission of educating the whole person. Work is also underway on To Zero by Thirty- Five, the College’s $70 million energy plan that will enable it to reach carbon neutrality by 2035. The College is also investing $134 million in a capital renewal plan that will address issues of deferred maintenance across campus.

Smith recently launched Swarthmore Forward, a college-wide strategic planning initiative that will set the course for the College’s future. The plan, which is designed for broad engagement by the campus community, focuses on three priority areas:

  • The curriculum and Swarthmore’s pedagogical practices
  • The student experience within and beyond the classroom
  • Preparation for leadership in a multiracial democracy and global society

Three overarching institutional priorities foundational to the College inform our thinking throughout the strategic planning process, namely:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Sustainability
  • Community Cohesion
Procedure for Candidacy

All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in this profile.

WittKieffer is assisting Swarthmore College in this search. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by August 30, 2023.

Application materials should be submitted using WittKieffer’s candidate portal.

Nominations and inquiries can be directed to:

Charlene Aguilar Ed.M. and Darrien Davenport, Ed.D.

SwarthmoreVP-DEI@wittkieffer.comSwarthmore College is committed to the principle of equal opportunity for all qualified persons without unlawful discrimination. The College expressly prohibits any form of unlawful discrimination or harassment on the basis of any applicable federal, state, local, or College-recognized protected classification, including sex, race, color, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, marital/familial status, medical condition, genetic information or characteristics, veteran status, or disability in any decision regarding admissions, employment, or involvement in a College program or activity in accordance with the letter and spirit of federal, state, and local non- discrimination and equal opportunity laws, such as Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, The Americans with Disabilities Act and ADA Amendments Act, The Equal Pay Act, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the Borough of Swarthmore Ordinance on Non-Discrimination.

Advertised: Aug 03 2023 Eastern Daylight Time
Applications close: Open until filled


Swarthmore College, a highly selective college of liberal arts and engineering, has supported thinkers and doers for more than 150 years. Since 1864, it has lifted students to their full intellectual and personal potential so they can apply their knowledge with meaning and purpose.Swarthmore college main

Located 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia in the borough of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, Swarthmore has been co-educational since its founding by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Our Quaker founders believed in the practical application of knowledge for the common good. While Swarthmore is no longer a religious institution, these Quaker roots anchor and inform how Swatties learn and work. 

The College offers two degrees: the B.A. in the arts and sciences and the B.S. in engineering. With a student/faculty ratio of 8:1, Swarthmore ensures that its students have close and meaningful contact with their professors.

Swarthmore’s alumni body is small (about 20,000 living alumni) but distinguished. Five Swarthmore graduates have won the Nobel Prize; Swarthmore is also among the top five highest producers of doctorate recipients in the humanities, life sciences, and all sciences combined, with 20 percent of Swarthmore graduates going on to earn a doctorate degree. Some prominent Swarthmore alumni are acclaimed artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby ‘04, novelist Jonathan Franzen ’81, Ashesi University founder Patrick Awuah ’89, Chris Van Hollen ’83, U.S. Senator from Maryland, fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra ’05, and noted sociologist Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot '66.Swarthmore college main

As of June 30, 2016, the College has an endowment of approximately $1.7 billion. Swarthmore's robust financial aid program ensures the College’s commitment to providing access to an exceptional liberal arts education for all qualified students without regard to their ability to pay and allows the College to meet each admitted student's demonstrated financial need. With one of the most generous financial aid programs in the country, Swarthmore awards aid -- without loans -- to more than half of its students.

True to its Quaker heritage, Swarthmore maintains a commitment to service and the common good. Students find support for service projects through the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and in the nearby communities of Chester and Philadelphia and around the world. In addition, Swarthmore is one of 10 charter members of Project Pericles, which supports students who propose and implement projects to identify issues and advance solutions.

Swarthmore's residential campus features more than 425 wooded acres, including rolling lawns, a creek, wooded hills, and hiking trails which are maintained by staff horticulturists as the nationally registered Scott Arboretum.

Swarthmore College, a highly selective liberal arts college located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, has supported thinkers and doers for more than 150 years. Swarthmore has a strong institutional commitment to excellence through diversity in its educational program and employment practices and actively seeks and welcomes applications from candidates with exceptional qualifications, particularly those with demonstrable commitments to a more inclusive society and world.

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