Dr. Frank Tuitt delivered his pitch to the University of Connecticut students and faculty for the position of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) Monday afternoon in the Dodd Konover Auditorium.
The second of such potential CDO presentations was conducted and gave a window into a Tuitt, a Boston native of Caribbean descent who earned his BA in Human Relations from Connecticut College in 1987, his MEd in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University in 1997 and his doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2003.
Tuitt’s wide-ranging scholarship focuses mainly on equity for all in higher education as well as teaching and learning in racially diverse college classrooms.
“Specifically, my research critically examines issues of race, inclusive excellence and diversity in and outside the classroom from the purview of faculty and students,” Tuitt’s résumé reads.
Unlike Lisa McBride, the first CDO candidate to present their credentials and goals to the UConn community, Tuitt has spent most of his life in academia as an administrator, academic and “change agent…with a particular emphasis on the access and success for those from historically marginalized communities,” according to his résumé.
A prolific publisher on issues like the significance of race in U.S. education and black faculty in journals and books, Tuitt is well-known for his writings on race and schooling.
As is the case with all the candidates, it is somewhat unclear what the job of Chief Diversity Officer entails as determined by President Susan Herbst and the Diversity Task Force.
“I am eager to learn more about UConn’s specific needs and goals as it relates to diversity and inclusion,” Tuitt wrote in an email to the Daily Campus. “ Generally speaking, my personal framework for advancing diversity and inclusion is based on the concept of inclusive excellence and consists of focusing on four areas: access and equity (compositional diversity and success) campus climate; teaching and learning (curriculum & pedagogy) and learning and development.”
As the current Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Denver, Tuitt is responsible for developing and implementing new initiatives and programs to provide focus and accountability for diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the institution.
The pitch for the CDO position is simple. According to Tuitt, it’s his experience that makes him the most qualified candidate.
“I have over 25 years of experience working to create inclusive, diverse and equitable higher education environments,” Tuitt said. “I believe I have the right combination of scholar/teacher/administrator and leader which is supported by a solid track record of helping institutions that I have a part of close the gap between their aspirations to become diverse and inclusive and their ability to actually be diverse and inclusive.”
During the presentation, Tuitt said that the leader of an institution and its administration is accountable with regards to what is done with diversity. He also pointed out that it is not uncommon for him to be the only black male in a room from his “political standpoint.”
Tuitt also remarked that it was more historically accurate for black people to be “black people,” rather than “African-Americans.”
Sten Spinella is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.