The University of Toledo yesterday provided tangible evidence of its commitment to diversity on campus with the creation of a new vice president for equity and diversity position.
Lawrence J. Burns, vice president for external affairs, will serve in the role on an interim basis, while continuing to oversee the University’s enrollment, academic and health-care marketing, and communications areas, as well as the Center for Creative Instruction.
“Larry has a long history of involvement with community outreach and has demonstrated significant positive impacts on the diversity of the University community,” said President Lloyd Jacobs. “As we sought to better formalize our equity and diversity initiatives, he seemed a natural person to provide leadership.”
Burns was recommended for the role by The University of Toledo Diversity Council based on several accomplishments over the course of his 18-year career in Toledo. Among those accomplishments:
• The UT Guarantee — A scholarship program for students in the Urban 21 school districts wherein The University of Toledo covers tuition and general fees for financially challenged students who have a 3.0 grade point average or above.
• The President’s Committee for African-American Recruitment, Retention and Scholarship Support on UT’s Health Science Campus — A group that includes UT senior administrators, faculty, staff, students and community members that originally was established by Burns through the former Medical College of Ohio Foundation. Charged by the president and led by individuals in the African-American community, the committee works to support UT’s ongoing efforts of increasing the amount of cultural diversity within health science majors and providing support to current students of color.
• The African-American Festival — A weekend event celebrating African-American culture that Burns brought to UT’s Scott Park Campus in summer 2008 following several years of local success.
“I’m honored and humbled to have been asked to serve in this capacity,” Burns said. “The University of Toledo is working to take a leadership role in diversity not only locally, but among institutions of higher education nationwide. I look forward to serving as an ambassador of those efforts.”