Diversity is not about counting heads, it’s about making heads count.
That is the philosophy of Lee A. Gill, J.D, who has been named Clemson University’s chief diversity officer (CDO) and special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence.
“Lee is a successful leader who will make a positive difference for our university, said President James P. Clements. “We have made strides to create an inclusive campus culture, and that work must continue. I’m confident that Lee’s philosophy and experience will help us provide a learning and workplace environment that is welcoming and supportive for all students, faculty and staff.”
“Clemson is firmly committed to diversity and inclusive excellence, and we welcome Lee to the team to provide leadership for this effort,” said interim Chief Diversity Officer Max Allen, who also serves as chief of staff. “He has the experience, knowledge and skills to enhance the campus climate for everyone.”
Among his responsibilities, the new CDO will:
“The work of supporting and sustaining equity and inclusion on a college campus has truly been a calling for me,” said Gill. “It is who I am, not just what I do. I know what it feels like to be fortunate enough to find the type of university environment, mentors and role models that challenge and support you to achieve your potential. That awareness fuels my passion to help students thrive and succeed, and to help universities to create a holistic culture that makes that possible.”
With more than 20 years experience advising, training and advocating on diversity issues, the veteran professional most recently served as associate vice president for inclusion and equity/chief diversity officer at The University of Akron (UA) since 2008. During that time, Gill led efforts to increase diverse faculty hires in the university, and one department increased its diverse hires by 30 percent in one year. He also led efforts to create an endowed “Inclusive Excellence Scholarship Program” for first-generation students, developed an African American Male Learning Community through a $425,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to increase retention and graduation rates and spearheaded a number of resource centers dedicated to unrepresented and underrepresented populations. Gill’s leadership led to the successful creation of a Men of Color initiative, called UA’s Black Male Summit which focuses on persistence, retention and graduation of African American males, drawing numerous attendees annually from across the country. Now in its ninth year, it was cited by The White House as having become a national Best Practice initiative.
Through Gill’s leadership, UA received numerous national recognitions and awards that celebrated its commitment to diversity issues. One such award includes the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, the only national award that honors colleges and universities that show an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion across their campuses.
“Enhancing diversity is a major focus of the new Clemson Forward strategic plan,” said executive vice president for academic affairs and provost Robert H. Jones. “The need to enhance diversity and create a welcoming and nurturing climate has been a strong and recurring theme throughout the planning process. We look forward to working with Lee to achieve our goals.”
Gill will begin his new position April 18, 2016.