AACC hires chief diversity officer

AACC adds diversity oversight

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AACC hires chief diversity officer

Dr. Deidra Dennie will lead AACC’s diversity efforts.

Dr. Deidra Dennie will lead AACC’s diversity efforts.

Photo by Tre Mooring

Dr. Deidra Dennie will lead AACC’s diversity efforts.

Photo by Tre Mooring

Photo by Tre Mooring

Dr. Deidra Dennie will lead AACC’s diversity efforts.

Elizabeth Spearman, Associate Editor for Web

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AACC’s new chief diversity officer said she wants to work as much with students as with administrators to make the campus more inclusive.

Dr. Deidra Dennie, the former director of equity, diversity and inclusion at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia, started her job at AACC on Sept. 25.

Dennie will take a leadership role in meeting the needs of the diverse student body while continuing to build an inclusive campus, she told Campus Current.

Dennie, whose doctorate is in public administration, praised the college for its existing focus on diversity.

“The school is already rich in diversity, and I want to build on that,” Dennie said.

AACC won the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine in 2015 and 2016.

Dennie said she plans to work closely with the administration and also with student leaders.

“I want to build bridges, make connections with everyone on campus,” she said.

During her first 45 days, Dennie said she plans to go to student club meetings to introduce herself and get to know the community.

She said she wants to know where she is needed from a student perspective and how she can help students be successful and feel more included on campus.

A search committee made up of professors and administrative staff selected Dennie as the new chief diversity officer in August.

The goal of the position is to make sure the school is “diverse and welcoming,” said Dr. Kellie McCants-Price, psychology professor and chair of the search committee.

McCants-Price explained that “diversity” means more than gender and race. It also encompasses sexual orientation, age and disability.

“We want everyone to feel welcomed to our campus and to know that AACC caters to everyone,” McCants-Price said.

Vice President of Learning Dr. Michael Gavin, also on the search committee,  said Dennie has a very “nuanced approach.”

Dan Baum, AACC’s director of public relations and marketing, said the position of chief diversity officer is “relatively new” for community colleges.

“[It] is essential on campus. In our current political climate … we want everyone on our campus to feel like they belong,” Baum said.

Many students responded positively to the news of Dennie’s hiring.

“I didn’t even know that was an actual position,” Lizzy Donovan, a Jump Start student, said. “It’s great the school wants to make diversity one of its main focuses; it’s important to make everyone feel included.”

Freshman Sylvia Johnson said the position is important, especially “in this day and age.”

Dennie replaced AACC’s first chief diversity officer, James Felton III, who held the position for three years.

AACC was the first community college in Maryland to hire a chief diversity officer.

Club editor Sarah Noble contributed to this report.

Photo by Tre Mooring
AACC’s new chief diversity officer says she will try to make AACC’s campus even more inclusive.

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