Rayce Patterson | The Echo
Taylor University began the search for a candidate to fill a new administrative role earlier this year. The position is called the special assistant to the president for diversity initiatives.
"We have seen the number of students of color growing over the years, and so this is just like a next step," President P. Lowell Haines said. "We have an Office of Intercultural Programs, but that is more at a student programming level. What we want to do and what I would like to do is have somebody at a higher level who participates on the president's cabinet."
According to Haines, the special assistant will report directly to the president through Chief of Staff Sherri Harter. The position will also be linked to student development, academic affairs and human resources, which will be through the provost, the vice president for student development and the special assistant to the president on human resources.
Similar positions to this one can be found in several universities today but still have not been adopted by the majority of universities, according to Haines. How Taylor's new administrative position stands out is that direct relationship with the president's office.
"We've looked at dozens of job descriptions and researched all over America and come up with what we think is a really unique position," Haines said. "Oftentimes, in these positions around the country, you'll find people who are pretty frustrated. They have a title, but they're not really given a standing; they're not given an office and they're not given a budget and those kinds of things to do stuff. And we want to buck that trend and do something meaningful here."
The duties of the special assistant will include creating a strategic plan for diversity and intercultural initiatives, propose policies for the university and assist in the recruitment of diverse staff, faculty and students. On top of that, the special assistant will even teach a few classes on diversity topics, according to the official job description provided by Harter.
The number one qualification on the job description is the candidate has to have a strong Christian faith and love the Lord. The next biggest thing they are looking for is experience. A graduate degree is required, and they prefer the candidate to already have experience regarding diversity programming in a university setting. They do not require the candidate to have a doctorate degree, but it is preferred.
"When you have somebody coming in at the president's level, you need some pretty savvy people," Haines said. "This is a very difficult area; race in society is pretty tough stuff. You need to have somebody who's wise, has good judgment, has good references, has been through a lot of different things."
Haines also wants the candidate to have good people skills and get along well with others because of the sensitivity that is required in dealing with issues regarding race.
Taylor posted the available position online for the public, and they also sought out their own candidates with the help of references from groups like the Board of Trustees. At the time of his interview, according to Haines, Taylor has not made an offer yet but have a candidate they are pursuing.