Mazey appoints Barbara Waddell as director of equity and diversity

Reporter and Reporter

Barbara Waddell, the newest member of the University’s presidential cabinet, is striving to promote equality and foster an inclusive, diverse learning environment on campus.

University President Mary Ellen Mazey appointed Waddell as the University’s director of equity and diversity this past semester after a search committee did not find a suitable candidate for the new position.

“She has the necessary experience, skills, familiarity with the University and insight to be an effective director of equity and diversity efforts for the University,” Mazey said in a Dec. 15 email announcement. “She has demonstrated a strong sense of purpose and her commitment to those ideals over many years is admirable. Although [Waddell] was not a candidate for the position, I felt that the best person for the role was already here at the University.”

Waddell has been at the University for 24 years and has worked as the assistant to the provost for personnel and academic conduct for a long time.

Rather than quit her current position in the Office of Provost, the new position of director of equity and diversity will be consolidated with it, she said.

“It’s not a new position, I just took on new responsibilities as the director of the office,” Waddell said. “It’s a way for the president to save money and is something for someone like me who has been here for a long time to do.”

Equality and diversity addresses harassment complaints at the University, while also assisting faculty and students when they are confronted with discrimination and racism, she said.

“It’s important to so many people across campus that a student can come into an environment [and be] treated equally and be able to exercise full potential while being here, without worrying about being discriminated based on your race,” Waddell said. “I was really honored when the president asked me to take on this responsibility and I see it as a wonderful opportunity, but with a lot more work.”

In addition to Waddell’s new position as the new director of equity and diversity, Mazey also made her a part of the president’s cabinet, which gives her the power to share what she believes about the principles of equity and fairness.

“The fact that I report to the president gives this office a little bit more elevation — that you can have a little more insurance and that it can be taken seriously,” Waddell said. “It adds another dimension knowing that this position is a direct report to the president and the provost.”

Rebecca Ferguson, chief human resources officer, said she works with and talks to Waddell daily.

The new director has in-depth knowledge of the University and has a very big heart for students, faculty and staff, Ferguson said.

“[Waddell] tries really hard to make sure everybody understands the procedures that we have to go through in order to keep us in compliance with the law,” she said. “She tries really hard to understand people’s positions.”

LaQuinda Butler, president of the Black Student Union, said she enjoys working with Waddell and believes the new director is well-suited for the new position.

“She’s concerned about diversity and is concerned about what goes on in this campus,” Butler said. “She’s a really hard worker and is willing to work with students about anything.”

Waddell said she works well under pressure and doesn’t mind completing the hard work that now consists of duties both in the Office of Provost and as the new director of equity and diversity.

“Making time for people who have issues that they need to see me about is really important to me,” Waddell said. “Pressure isn’t a bad thing if you just learn to work through it.”

The University will soon launch a search for an equity and diversity professional to assist Waddell, according to Mazey’s Dec. 15 email announcement.