The Chancellor’s Cabinet at NC State serves as the senior leadership team that meets weekly to address key operational issues and matters of policy and provide advice to the chancellor. As of this academic year, the Cabinet is the most diverse it has ever been.
Of the fourteen people in the Chancellor’s Cabinet, five are women and four are people of color.
“Having a diverse Cabinet ensures you are always considering all of the decisions the university has to make in the context of diversity and inclusion,” says Chancellor Woodson.
Every position in the Cabinet goes through a national search to seek out the best candidates from across the country. The nomination committee includes a wide variety of people, often including deans, professors, directors, as well as student leaders like the student body president and Graduate Student Association president.
“My push to any search committee is that they work very hard on the front end of the process to make sure that we have a very diverse pool from which to draw,” says Woodson.
Doneka Scott was the most recent appointment to the Cabinet, officially joining on February 15, 2021 as the vice chancellor and dean of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.
The most recent Chancellor’s Cabinet meeting was spent discussing the university’s Racial Equity Summit held back in October, the UNC Task Force on Racial Equity, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the campus community. The Cabinet focused on how these topics intersect with their strategic planning process, as the university is currently working on its 2021-2030 mission, vision, values and Strategic Plan Goals, one of which is to “champion a culture of equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging and well-being in all we do.”
Interview with the Chancellor
Diversity Digest: How are members selected for the Chancellor’s Cabinet?
Chancellor Woodson: “How they’re selected is, without exception, every position in the Cabinet goes through a national search. We hire the best talent from around the country. I can’t think of a single exception to that since I’ve been here. It’s a search that looks for the best across the country. In some cases, like (for Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity) Sheri Schwab, (they) were already here at NC State when they were hired, but that’s not always, or to be frank, not even mostly the case. We always start every search for a leadership position at NC State, and my push to any search committee is that they work very hard on the front end of the process to make sure that we have a very diverse pool from which to draw. So we’ve worked hard to make sure that we have a Cabinet that represents the diversity that we all want to see in higher education.”
Diversity Digest: How does a diverse Chancellor’s Cabinet impact the campus community?
Chancellor Woodson: “For one, underrepresented individuals bring tremendous personal experience and personal conviction to the issue of diversity and inclusion. I would argue almost every Cabinet meeting, every conversation we have, whether it’s about COVID-19 or it’s academic, etc., is discussed through a lens of diversity and inclusion and that has very much helped, not only with Sheri being on the Cabinet as a person responsible for much of this area, but also Marie Williams as a person responsible for all human resource decisions, all hiring decisions, and so having a diverse Cabinet ensures you are always considering all of the decisions the university has to make in the context of diversity and inclusion.”
Diversity Digest: What work has the Chancellor’s Cabinet done recently pertaining to equity and diversity?
Chancellor Woodson: “Well, we meet every week, and so our meeting this week was on Tuesday, and there were two topics that we spent two and a half hours on. The first topic was a report from Sheri on the Racial Equity Summit and a conversation about the UNC Task Force on Racial Equity. And we spent the bulk of our time on those topics, and when we spend that much time on it, we are focused on how it intersects with our strategic planning process, where one of the key task forces is focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, and the second topic was a conversation we had about where we are with planning for COVID — I mean we can’t have a meeting without talking about COVID-19 and you know, talking about the challenge of getting our community vaccinated. We spent a lot of time trying to understand what the university’s role is in vaccinations and how we can be supportive of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.”
Diversity Digest: Additional thoughts?
Chancellor Woodson: “I told my team this week — because we were celebrating Lisa Zapata last Cabinet meeting as the interim vice chancellor for the Division of Academic and Student Affairs before Doneka comes next week — I started the conversation by telling everyone how proud I was of the work we had done collectively to keep NC State operational during this pandemic. It has been hard, and it’s been very expensive and it’s been a challenge on everyone’s physical and mental strength just trying to get through it, and I know that’s true for students. So we are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel and we just hope it’s not a train. I just thanked everybody for their work.”
Photo, top: Chancellor Woodson speaks with students at Respect the Pack in August 2019.
Jenna Nabors (she/her) is a fourth-year student majoring in communication with minors in international studies, journalism and English and a Park Scholar. Share your thoughts about this article on Twitter at @NCStateOIED.