Dr. Willie McKether, who had been serving in a temporary role this spring as special assistant to the president for diversity, has been named vice president for diversity and inclusion, UT President Sharon L. Gaber announced today, pending approval by the UT Board of Trustees. McKether also will hold a vice provost appointment.
Since her arrival at The University of Toledo last July, Gaber has been working to promote diversity throughout the culture of the institution.“The strengthening of a campus culture that is inclusive, values diversity and uniqueness, and celebrates that we can learn from our differences is a responsibility we all share,” Gaber said. “Dr. McKether’s job is to help coordinate our efforts, to push us forward, and to provide the expertise and guidance that ensures we are moving toward a better future. He has the right skill set, passion and drive to do just that.”
McKether’s professional background and training in cultural anthropology and multicultural retention efforts over the past 10 years have helped provide a world view that will aid him in this new role, Gaber said.
“This role is about creating an environment where all members of the UT community, and all those who visit our campus, feel like they belong,” McKether said. “I look forward to helping advance some of the great work already underway to increase our recruitment and retention of minority students, faculty and staff.”
Much of the work McKether will take on has been outlined in the draft strategic diversity plan he led the coordination of this spring as special assistant to the president for diversity. Trustees will consider the plan in the months ahead.
“The road map is nearly there and it was created thanks to input from hundreds of members of the UT and Toledo communities,” said McKether, who will start July 1 and report to Gaber. “I can’t wait to get started.”
McKether said he’s also planning to increase UT’s outreach to advocacy groups in the community and ensure there is an ongoing dialogue.
In addition to his faculty position in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, McKether has served as associate dean in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences. He is also a leader in the organization Brothers on the Rise and an advisor to the Black Student Union. He is co-founder and co-director of the Multicultural Emerging Scholars Program, designed to retain students at The University of Toledo.
Dr. Shanda Gore will serve as associate vice president of the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women and the Minority Business Development Center, working across UT to advance these organizations.
Campus and Community Reaction:
“I am pleased with the announcement by Dr. Sharon Gaber and The University of Toledo. For as long as I have known and worked with Dr. Willie McKether, I have been impressed by his scholarship, integrity, and commitment to diversity, the University and our community.” — Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson
“Dr. Willie McKether is the right person, at the right time, working under the right president to further elevate diversity as a priority for The University of Toledo and for northwest Ohio.” — John C. Moore, community leader
“Dr. Willie McKether has been outstanding during this last year as The University of Toledo transitions to a truly diverse institution. I am very excited to see him step into the role of vice president for diversity and inclusion because he will unlock the potential of the Rocket community to be a diverse and inclusive home for everyone.” — Alexandria Hetzler, UT student and president of Spectrum
“Dr. Willie McKether is an inspirational figure in the African-American community. He has a contagious passion for education that has proven to be transformative for young people and especially young men. He possesses the strong moral values needed to inspire young people to believe in themselves and the possibilities for a bright future.” — The Rev. Otis J. Gordon Jr.
“Differences make communities stronger. The Disability Studies Program looks forward to partnering with Dr. McKether to advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities to break down barriers and celebrate those distinctions that make us all unique.” — Dr. Jim Ferris, chair of the UT Disabilities Studies Program and Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies
“UT plays an important diversity role in our community. A number of area high school students attending UT are the first in their families to achieve the goal of a college degree. An investment in diversity is an investment in a strong community for years to come. I look forward to the continued partnership between UT, Toledo Public Schools and this community.” — Bob Vasquez, board of education president, Toledo Public Schools