Amy Freeman will take over as the new chief diversity officer (CDO) and associate provost (AP) at Tufts today, replacing previous CDO Mark Brimhall-Vargas and interim CDOs Robin Glover and Ellen Pinderhughes. Freeman joins Tufts after 13 years at Pennsylvania State University,where she served as assistant dean of engineering outreach and inclusion, and oversaw the university’s Multicultural Engineering Program and Women in Engineering Program, according to TuftsNow.
“Dr. Freeman will be responsible for providing leadership as we continue to make progress on the diversity and inclusion goals articulated in the university-wide strategic plan, the report of the President’s Council on Diversity and school strategic plans,” Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris told the Daily in an email.
According to a job description for the CDO/AP role, the CDO is responsible for integrating an emphasis on diversity into the culture of the university, along with measuring the progress of existing diversity initiatives and launching new ones.
Freeman is focused on listening to undergrads, graduate students, faculty and staff. She noted that, since each school has different access to resources, her role will be important in bridging these gaps and providing all members of the Tufts community with the resources they need.
“I will probably make it a point to listen a lot and really focus on the audiences that were indicated in the Tufts diversity plan,” Freeman said.
Freeman also noted that it will be important to build on Tufts’ existing foundation in her work.
“I don’t work alone, [I] work in a team, and so I’m really open to the input of others who have been at Tufts and have been in the Tufts system for a long time,” Freeman said. “I think the key to success is very often a combination of the tried and true with what’s new, and what’s going to take us into the future.”
Harris added that Freeman will act as chair of all diversity and inclusion groups, and she will be involved with the activities of each group on campus.
While Freeman acknowledged the importance of diversity initiatives already underway at Tufts, she also stressed the need for additional university-wide efforts.
Diversity and Community Affairs Officer on Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate Shannon Lee expressed hope that Freeman will use TCU Senate as a resource to get to know the Tufts student body, and that in turn TCU Senate will be able to work with Freeman to make Tufts a more inclusive community.
“In terms of Senate’s priorities this year, we would love to work with Dr. Freeman on different initiatives that could unite the student body and give resources to underrepresented students,” Lee, a sophomore, said.
Lee said Freeman could help with initiatives around gender neutral bathrooms and allowing more communities to have physical space on campus. She added that, although these conversations were taking place last year, it was difficult to make progress during the process of finding a new CDO.
In addition, Lee hopes that Freeman can help TCU Senate accomplish various goals around specific communities at Tufts.
“Some things that we’ve been talking about particularly are with international students who may have had different academic backgrounds … Even beyond the academic capacity, just being in a new environment is a huge adjustment and makes it difficult for students to be members of the community,” Lee said. “I would love to come up with programming or policy changes or other services we can provide our students to make the work that they do on campus more accessible.”
Harris said that Freeman is extremely qualified for this job, given her prior significant experience with advocating for diversity in higher education.
“Dr. Freeman is an accomplished and experienced educator, scholar and administrator,” Harris said. “She has deep theoretical and practical experience with the critical issues affecting diversity and inclusion in a university setting.”
Freeman expressed enthusiasm about becoming a part of the Tufts community and working closely with students to ensure that all groups’ needs are met.
“Tufts is an incredible institution and I think that Tufts has done a lot towards trying to enhance inclusion and diversity, so I’m glad to build on what has already been done,” Freeman said.