Harvey first VP & chief officer for diversity & equity
By Carol Wood
President John T. Casteen III has named William B. Harvey, a nationally known higher education expert on diversity in colleges and universities, the University’s first vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity.
Harvey, who for the past five years has served as vice president of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C., will join the University on Nov. 1.
Prior to undertaking his assignment at ACE, Harvey was dean of the school of education and deputy chancellor for educational partnerships at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also served as special assistant to the vice chancellor for research at North Carolina State University, and before that was assistant vice provost for undergraduate studies at State University of New York at Stony Brook.
“Bill Harvey has long been a strong voice on matters of diversity and equity in higher education. He has focused much of his academic career on these issues and on the people most directly affected by them, both in the classroom and through his writings,” Casteen said. “I look forward to the impact he will have on our curricula, on teaching and learning within the University and on the larger community. He brings a record of successful advocacy for the proposition that in order to serve our society justly, American universities must be inclusive and supportive of all of their students and faculty members. The work he has done in a variety of professional assignments has gained him national prominence and prepares him well for leading the University’s diversity initiatives.”
The President’s Commission on Diversity and Equity, a yearlong study launched on Sept. 5, 2003, to examine the social and academic cultures at the University, recommended creation of the position of vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity. In his charge to the commission that day, Casteen said, “We hope you will be able to find common ground and areas of difference . . . to study the populations from which we draw our students, and to review the rules of equity and fairness to see if they work for everyone.”
Harvey’s appointment, much anticipated in the University community, sends a signal on just how serious the University’s and the Board of Visitors’ commitment is to diversity, Casteen said.
In fact, it was the depth of that commitment that attracted Harvey to U.Va. “Few institutions have looked so comprehensively at the issue,” Harvey said. “The range of engagement that is expected of this position, and the fact that it has direct responsibility to the president, were central to my decision. It was clear that the University of Virginia was interested in transformation at all levels of the institution.”
Harvey said he has no illusions that he will be doing this work by himself, noting that it will take effort from everyone. “But I plan to communicate regularly and often. My message will be that diversity is important to maintaining the University’s high level of recognition, reputation and ranking … that a diverse environment is absolutely critical to the educational experience … and that diversity is a part of excellence — not apart from excellence.”
Harvey’s career in higher education spans more than 35 years and crisscrosses academic and administration positions. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in education, anthropology, social welfare and African-American studies at several colleges and universities. He also has held various positions in academic affairs, research administration and student affairs.
While many of those jobs have helped prepare him for leading U.Va.’s diversity initiatives, he said his current role as vice president of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity solidified his mission. In that position, he has had to identify and define problems related to minority concerns in higher education and provide leadership in finding solutions to them.
Harvey also has been responsible for strategic directions, management of programs, fostering collaborative partnerships, gathering and publishing data on minority participation in higher education, and sponsoring national forums on issues of concern to minorities. On Oct. 6, he will lead the nation’s largest higher education conference on diversity — Educating All of One Nation — an ACE project intended to examine every aspect of minority participation in higher education.
Yoke San Reynolds, vice president and chief financial officer, was the chairwoman of the search committee that brought Harvey here. “We had an extremely strong pool of outstanding candidates, each with a unique set of experiences and vision for diversity at U.Va.,” Reynolds said. “It was difficult, but exciting, to choose from among such talented individuals. The search committee was pleased to recommend Bill Harvey.”
In addition to his teaching and administration career, Harvey has written extensively on diversity issues. Most recently he co-authored ACE’s “Twenty-First Annual Status Report on Minorities in Higher Education” and a chapter titled Deans as Diversity Leaders in Frank Hale’s book, “What Makes Racial Diversity Work in Higher Education.”
Harvey, 57, earned a B.A. in English from West Chester University in 1968. He earned an Ed.M. from Rutgers in 1973, and an Ed.D. from Rutgers in 1980. He is married to Brenda Harvey, who works for a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of low-income students going to college. The Harveys have two grown daughters, Adia, an assistant professor at Hollins University, and Amina, who works in New York City.