New VP for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh

3/4/2012: Best of luck to Ms Alex-Assensoh, who was hired by CAS Dean Scott Coltrane and VP Robin Holmes after an open, reasonably transparent national search, and who has excellent credentials (PhD, law degree, research) and relevant experience at IU. I didn’t go to the interviews but on paper I though she looked like the best candidate. Let’s call her the VP for Equity for short. From the new VPEI website:

Yvette Marie Alex-Assensoh, a political scientist and attorney who has served on the Indiana University faculty for the past 18 years and as dean for women’s affairs since 2008, has been named vice president for equity and inclusion at the University of Oregon. She will begin work at the UO in August.

The diversity position was originally created because former UO administrator Joe Wade sued Provost John Moseley for employment discrimination, and then insisted in the settlement that UO make some policy changes to encourage open searches, and transparent hiring processes. Good for Mr. Wade! Unfortunately UO is still a long way from doing the right thing when it comes to administrative hiring.

The office got off to a troubled start, then suffered through 5 years of mismanagement by Charles Martinez, who ironically was appointed by Frohnmayer and Moseley without any search at all, and then allowed to double-dip at an off campus job. Two years ago most of the relevant faculty and staff broke out in rebellion against Martinez, so Bean and Tomlin created a tenured position for Martinez in the Ed School, then President Lariviere dumped him as VP and sent him back to teaching.

Robin Holmes has already made some much needed changes in the office as interim head. Here’s hoping this office is now off on a good track and that the new VP will undertake a thorough review of  some of its more questionable programs, such as the UMRP, and move resources to fill-the-pipeline efforts that work and are legal, such as the OYSP. The fact that Ms Alex-Assensoh has a law degree seems like a good sign. Maybe she will even abandon the 5 year “diversity action plans” window-dressing effort.

Her application materials are here. This clip from her application letter looks very encouraging. “legally proper”, “best students”, and “just as likely to complete the program and find good jobs”:

Nice contrast to the inane “diversity *is* excellence” mantra that Martinez and Linda Brady used to spout.

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12 Responses to New VP for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh

  1. Anonymous says:

    An open search? What was Jim Bean thinking? Now the faculty will expect one for Provost.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Either you recruit the best students, regardless of classification, or you use preferences, however masked they may be. Hopefully, the latter will be soon be ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, once and for all.

    Then we’ll be back to merit-based admissions. What need then will there be for a position such as the Orwellian “VP for equity and inclusion”?

    Use all the euphemisms you want, it’s pretty clear what this is all about.

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  3. UO Matters says:

    Merit as measured by SAT scores, when only the rich kids take the cram courses? Or AP classes, when their schools offer more and have better teachers?

    We don’t have class free measures of merit, so we need to consider SES in admissions if we want to have equality of opportunity.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    So now it’s socioeconomic status.

    In the first place, how do you decide how many standard deviations it’s worth on the SAT if someone’s mother is single and unemployed? Cram courses only make a small difference, on average, according to most sources. Sure, if you have money to burn, by all means spend $10,000 to raise your SAT’s 30 points. (And yeah, I’d be willing to overlook 30 points for a kid who actually came from that kind of background. But not a standard deviation (about 220 ponts on the Verbal/Math SAT combined). Or even half.

    Then, if you get in to a place based on SES and you’re completely outclassed intellectually by your peers, how do repair the damage that does? Sure, it may be unfair if your high school doesn’t offer calculus, for whatever reason. But then, if you get into a physics class where everyone’s had calculus, and you’re still working on Math 111 (or Math 95), you may find yourself totally screwed. I’ve seen it happen too often myself. It’s rotten for everyone, most especially, the victims who are the intended benficiaries. (I’m not saying I’m in the physics department.)

    Also, using SES may very well result in fewer minority students. SES preferences are not just a substitute for minority preferences.

    One last thing: if you discard the SAT, you end up screwing the Asian students. That is becoming a big issue. And it also tends to weaken the entire SES argument.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So, if I am capable of doing calculus but I am not ready to do it yet because I got screwed by a crappy high school because of SES, tough luck?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Since when do non-selective universities like UO have a compelling justification for limiting admissions based on woefully underdefined criteria of “merit.”

      The general purpose of the public university is to provide a kind of mirror of society where the members of the academic community, including the student body, engage in the robust exchange of ideas. Nowhere in that definition of general purpose is a compelling justification to exclude or include based on SAT scores. One need not perform well on the SAT to be a valuable participant in the “robust exchange of ideas,” and one’s performance on the SAT establishes little in terms of one’s potential contribute to said “exchange.”

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    • Anonymous says:

      Is this about delivering educational benefits to the entire student community and the public through creating a diverse student body? Or, is this about the ability of faculty to shout “Scoreboard!” and “See, we’re really an elite university! Just look at the pre-college test scores of the undergraduates whom most of us are never directly involved in teaching, and – as these are pre-college test scores – for which we had NO HAND in shaping in their performance.”

      Who and what are you there for, folks: the students and the public, or your own egos and career aspirations?

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  5. Anonymous says:

    What’s Orwellian is the term “merit-based admissions” when, as UO Matters states above, “merit” as we judge it right now is heavily influenced by where you come from – economically, racially, geographically, etc… We pretend there is some magical, objective measure of merit but that just isn’t true. If there were, then, yes, these efforts would not be needed.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    OK, so UO is a crappy public university, always will be, so why have any standards at all? UO SAT scores average a little above 1100, give or take. None of that Berkeley stuff here, or even University of Colorado! Why not just admit everyone, let the average go to 1000, or 900, pick a number.

    But if there are standards, apply them uniformly, without regard to race.

    I still haven’t heard the argument about the high-performing groups (Asians) getting screwed in all this, as they demonstrably are at the Ivy League schools, but probably not at UC, thanks to the initiative process in California.

    As to you who are “capable of doing calculus but not yet ready to do it yet” — a bit of a contradiction there maybe, but here’s the plan: take Math 95 and/or Math 111, either at a community college or UO — probably a better deal at LCC — and then when you’re really ready, take calculus. But not until them — if you take it prematurely, which is what often happens to affirmative action admits, those who arern’t scared away from calculus altogether — you’ll very likely fail, or do poorly. Then you’re REALLY screwed. No medical school, no biochemistry degree. I’ve seen this way too often not to realize the cruel well-intentioned scam that it is.

    Take my advice, you might do well, but ignore it at your peril.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    By the way, I’ll buy the argument that SAT scores don’t matter when faculty agree that salaries don’t matter either — after all, our “comparators” on which our supposedly low salaries are based, all have significantly higher SAT scores than UO — by an average of half to a full standard deviation — that is one justification for their high salaries.

    If UO is just a mediocre, non-selective, middle of the pack public university — why should anyone (except the faculty) care about the salaries?

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