Sherri A. Charleston will serve as Harvard’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer beginning August 1, University President Lawrence S. Bacow announced Monday.
Charleston — a historian and attorney — will be the first person to hold the new position, which was formed after the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging completed its work in 2018.
“Sherri is an administrative leader and interdisciplinary scholar whose work at the intersection of history and law informs her efforts to translate theory into practice that improves higher education,” Bacow wrote in the announcement. “She is widely admired for her ability to integrate all aspects of an institution into her strategic thinking and decision making.”
In the new Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer role, she will report directly to Bacow, working to implement the task force’s recommendations. As a senior central administrator, Charleston will also serve as a member of the Academic Council.
“I am thrilled to see the groundswell of work that already exists at Harvard, and I look forward to synthesizing and integrating the University’s many effective diversity and inclusion efforts into a visible, innovative strategy for enhancing diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and belonging across campus,” Charleston said in a press release.
Charleston most recently served as Assistant Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Affirmative Action Officer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she also oversaw the school’s Office of Employee Disability Resources and managed undergraduate scholarship programs for underrepresented minorities.
Charleston — who holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin — also has concurrent faculty affiliations in the Departments of Gender and Women’s Studies and Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“My approach to the work is very much grounded in my academic interests in history and the law, and in thinking about how we've evolved, and how we haven't evolved, around questions of race and gender,” Charleston said in a press release.
Bacow wrote in the announcement that he is looking forward to working with Charleston.
“She will need the advice and support of people throughout the University as she begins the important work of helping us become the kind of community we ought to be. The urgency of this moment must not be wasted,” he wrote.
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