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Little-known office offers many benefits

Reporter

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 23:11

 

Despite it keeping a low profile, the majority of students and faculty at Buffalo State
benefit from the Equity and Campus Diversity office.
 
“Students benefit from the office, even though they may not realize the office exists,”
said Karen Clinton Jones, chief diversity officer for equity and campus diversity.
 
The office’s impact is felt campus-wide. It assists the college with diversity initiatives,
cultivates an environment of values and embraces diversity. It also institutes the campus’
affirmative action plan and examines hiring practices, along with investigating claims of
harassment and discrimination.
 
The office also oversees employment practices among faculty to make sure job
descriptions are inclusive and there isn’t any discrimination against qualified applicants.
 
Another role of the office is the enforcement of Title IX compliance, Jones said.
 
Jones is the first full time chief diversity officer in about two years.
 
“The office has been in transition for the last several years, and we’re evolving,” she said.
 
The office has been around since the mid-1980s, under different titles from time to time.
 
Scott Johnson, the dean of University College, had served as chief diversity officer in
an interim capacity for the two years before Jones was hired full-time. Dolores Battle,
professor emeritus of the speech-language pathology department, preceded both Jones
and Johnson.
 
Jones places an emphasis on any underrepresented group, “making certain that
our outreach efforts are consistent, particularly in those areas where there is under
utilization,” she said.
 
Jones graduated from Buffalo State in 1984 as a criminal justice major. She did her
graduate work at Brockport and finished her doctorate at the University at Buffalo. Her
academic career coincided with her professional career, weaving in and out of higher
education, the corporate world, non-for-profits and state and private institutions, all while
holding similar titles to the one she has now.
 
President Aaron Podolefsky introduced Jones and her ties to Buffalo State to the campus
community during his State of the College address earlier this semester.
 
“Karen came to us from Virginia Tech, and is a Buffalo State alum,” he said. “Her
daughter graduated last year from Buffalo State.”
 
Podolefsky is the official designee of the equity and diversity office. The campus must
abide by all federal and state laws and SUNY policies in regards to discrimination. The
goal is to ensure a favorable climate for the development of the human potential of all
students, faculty and staff, according to the school’s website.
 
“Everything is about creating an environment where we’re creating an opportunity for
everyone,” Jones said.
 
The office offers guidance and a place to bounce ideas off of, providing equitable
opportunities to enhance success.
 
The equity and campus diversity office partners with the President’s council, of which
Jones is a part of, to sponsor three campus wide award programs: The Muriel A. Howard
award for the promotion of equity and campus diversity, the Phillip Santa Maria Award
for student leadership and the President’s award for excellence in the advancement of
equity and campus diversity.
 
The office is located in Cleveland Hall 415, with office hours on Monday through Friday,
from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
Michael Mazzuto can be reached by email at mazzuto.record@live.com.

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