Tufts appoints new interim Chief Diversity Officers

Interim Chief Diversity Officers Ellen Pinderhughes, left, and Robin Glover, right, pose for a portrait in Ballou Hall on Jan. 27. (Alexis Serino / The Tufts Daily)

Robin Glover and Ellen Pinderhughes are Tufts’ new interim Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs), following former CDO Mark Brimhall-Vargas’s departure from Tufts on Jan. 10.

Glover is the associate dean of public health and professional degree programs at the Tufts Medical School, and Pinderhughes is a professor of child study and human development. They both said that they will continue to serve in these positions and will only serve as interim CDOs until a permanent CDO is selected.

Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris said that he asked Glover to focus primarily on the Grafton and Boston Health Sciences campuses and Pinderhughes to focus on the Medford/Somerville campus. Nonetheless, they both said that they will work closely together.

Harris explained that the process for selecting these two interim CDOs included input from Brimhall-Vargas, who currently serves as Brandeis University’s Chief Diversity Officer.

“Given the limited duration of these interim appointments, and the desire to maintain momentum, I started by asking our former CDO to suggest outstanding candidates from among the many people who have worked on diversity and inclusion initiatives,” Harris told the Daily in an email. “I interviewed candidates and then made offers to [Glover] and [Pinderhughes].”

Harris added that a new, permanent CDO will likely be chosen by a search committee of students, faculty and staff by the end of the academic year.

Pinderhughes explained that, in her academic career in clinical and developmental psychology, she has studied and taught courses about cultural sensitivity and cross-cultural interaction. Additionally, she served on Tufts’ Council on Diversity and has worked with Brimhall-Vargas to improve the university’s services for low-resource students. Glover has served on the university’s Council on Diversity and the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, according to a Jan. 13 email from Harris.

Brimhall-Vargas said that he suggested both of the interim candidates because of their good reputations among students and faculty and because of their prior work regarding diversity.

“[Glover] is very familiar with the medical school campus, has relationships with Grafton, is very well respected there and has already served on the diversity and inclusion working group,” Brimhall-Vargas said.

Brimhall-Vargas added that Pinderhughes will bring important experience and insight to the CDO role because she is a member of the Tufts faculty.

“I appreciate [Pinderhughes’] willingness to serve as a faculty member,” he said. “As a faculty member, she can address some of the things that I think are still unresolved such as the search and selection process for faculty.”

Glover and Pinderhughes both said they wanted to continue strong communication with students.

“My goal has always been … to always listen to [students], that has been very important,” Glover said. “I think if you give them the opportunity to have a voice, that helps.”

Pinderhughes expressed confidence that Tufts has been moving in the right direction on issues of diversity. She added that she hopes Tufts will serve as a model for inclusivity.

“I think Tufts has an opportunity to really kind of step into this and be a model, if you will, for supporting inclusion and continuing to build on the initiatives that have already been started around supporting diversity,” she said.

While reflecting on the former CDO, Senate Diversity and Community Affairs Officer Benya Kraus said Brimhall-Vargas was especially helpful to student activists.

“I think [Brimhall-Vargas] did a really good job explaining to us the administrative climate and administrative challenges that us as activists could be facing, so he helped us to be prepared and to be very strategic in how we wanted to achieve our goals,” Kraus, a junior, said.  “I felt like we were very much on the same page, which I am hoping will also be true with the new CDO.”

Brimhall-Vargas said that, although making change at Tufts is hard, he has confidence that progress will continue under the two new interim CDOs.

“Change at Tufts can sometimes be a meandering process, but it does eventually get there,” he said. “I really am grateful for the opportunity to have served the campus, and I have confidence that the campus can and will move forward, and that the people who are entrusted with that in the form of [Pinderhughes] and [Glover] will do well in their interim positions.”