Diane Ariza becomes the inaugural Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Abby Epstein – News Writer
The nationwide search for a Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is over. Diane Ariza will officially begin the new job in July of 2020.
“The way Southern has positioned themselves to be the social justice university in the state of Connecticut, is really exciting and that the community wants to be seen as a social justice university was very attractive,” said Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Diane Ariza.
Ariza said she is most looking forward to working with the students.
“I’m really excited to learn more from how students are leading in their organizations,” said Ariza.
She said she wants to learn how students lead while taking classes, doing internships and more.
“I want to learn more on how students see that work,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working with many staff and faculty that already see this is their research and, in their teaching, in the work that they do every day. I’m wanting to learn more on how they see that.”
Many students said they are happy Ariza will be the new Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“I believe Diane Ariza will be a great fit for the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She was friendly in the meeting and I felt like she could connect with our student population very easily,” said President of Student Government, Alexis Zhitomi.
Many students at Southern say they like to feel heard and that their opinion matters.
“Welcoming students and making everyone feel valued is such a key aspect of SCSU’s Social Justice mission,” Zhitomi said, “and I believe Dr. Ariza will help fill that role.”
Her background is another reason why students see her as a good fit for the position.
“She is a sociologist by education, and I think that perspective can provide a powerful lens in analyzing the interaction between groups on campus and figuring out what is working well, what is not, and how group dynamics work,” said social work major Benjamin Coombs, a senior.
Many faculty and staff said they are excited to have Ariza join them.
“One thing that stood out is her depth and breadth of experience. She has been at multiple institutions doing diversity, inclusion, and equity work,” said Vice President of Student Affairs, Tracy Tyree.
Ariza‘s current position is as the Chief Diversity Officer at Nazareth College.
“In her leadership role at Nazareth she has done some really interesting work with faculty and staff and supporting students,” Tyree said.
According to faculty and students, Ariza has much to offer to Southern.
“I am really interested in the work she has done and will bring to us in terms of moving the university forward to the next step of equity and inclusion that we aspire to be and do,“ Tyree said, “but will benefit from her strategic leadership.”
Even though Ariza will not start the job until July, she said she already feels connected to the Southern community.
“It’s a genuine transparent community that cares, and respects, and supports,” she said. “That’s what I have felt ever since my connection with Southern.”
Ariza said she wants to keep that feeling of connection with the Office of Diversity by building a team that will be important to build that office.
“What will be the resources to build the space, how do we think about resources for that office and what will that look like,” said Ariza.
A former resident of Connecticut, Ariza said she has felt the connection Southern strives to make in what she has read about Southern and the people she has met from Southern.
“I’m still working at Nazareth college,“ she said, “but I am so eager to start at Southern.”