Allison Roman was recently selected by a committee of Trinity University faculty, staff and students to fill the newly created position of the director for diversity and inclusion (DDI). Roman will start at Trinity on Jan. 2, 2018.
The creation of the position and the subsequent candidate search has been underway since March of 2016, after the departure of the coordinator for diversity and intercultural relations in January of that year left a vacancy in the administration’s vision for diversity.
Roman brings with her experience as the assistant director of the Center for Women and Gender Equity at Grand Valley State University. In an email interview, Roman wrote of her excitement to start in a position with no precedent in how the directorship should be handled.
“I think what really attracted me to this position is that it is new. That means that there’s an opportunity for the us as a community to come together and build something really amazing,” Roman wrote. “The role is also unique in that I really center on supporting students and their experiences on campus but also work closely with faculty and staff. This role would also allow me to be creative and collaborative in how we approach diversity and inclusion.”
In her visit to campus, Roman was impressed with Trinity’s apparent readiness to engage in issues of diversity.
“I chose to come to Trinity because during my interviews, I felt that Trinity was a very warm and welcoming community. I was impressed with some of the work that has been already been done around diversity, inclusion and social justice as well as the values of Trinity University,” Roman wrote. “Upon hearing how Trinity encourages productive collisions and seems to be a space for perhaps some difficult dialogue, I felt that this would be a great community to be a part of. Knowing that we as a community can grapple with social justice topics and struggle together to be better was so affirming.”
Already, Roman has a detailed vision for the future, an aspect of her application process that stood out to senior DDI search committee member Cristian Vargas.
“She [outlined] a concrete plan of action for her first few years in the position, which included fantastic ideas like the creation of an interdisciplinary social justice minor, the creation of a social justice leaders summit at Trinity and the creation of a living learning community similar to HOPE Hall that would focus on inequality in the city. This level of detail and creativity definitely set her apart from the other candidates in my mind,” Vargas wrote in an email interview.
But Roman plans on beginning her stint focused on learning about the existing Trinity community before moving on to long-term plans.
“Honestly, right out the gate, I want to get to know the Trinity University community and meet with students, faculty and staff. The main priority would be to find out what are the needs and gaps of the campus community and in what ways can this office support those efforts,” Roman wrote. “Some of my long term plans are to create spaces for students to engage in social justice work whether through research, cultural programming and working with community. In several years, I would also love to create a social center.”
Haile Duplantier, senior DDI search committee member, spoke to Roman’s character as a potential resource for students, which is one of the tasks the committee hoped the new director would be able to execute.
“As a person, she was approachable and personable. I felt like she would be someone that students would want to work with and feel comfortable confiding with on critical issues,” Duplantier said. “Individually, I am excited about the opportunity to potentially collaborate with Alli in this role and offer my insight as a graduating senior. Overall, I am excited for Trinity to have this office and for the Trinity community to experience the impact of having an office dedicated to this work.”
Vargas hinted that this is not the end of Trinity’s search for administrative positions focused on diversity.
“Last thing that I’d add is that for folks out there who think that the new director position is the end of the story, that’s not the case. Both the committee and the administration recognize that fostering diversity and inclusion cannot feasibly be one person’s job, nor should it be one person’s job “” rather, it’s a responsibility that everyone in the community shares. As such, this is only one example of the administration’s stated commitment to diversity and inclusion going forward,” Vargas wrote. “Trinity can finally move forward with its vision for a 21st-century education.”
Roman encourages students to reach out to her as soon as she gets on campus.
“I am so excited to make connections with faculty and staff and especially students. I believe everyone has unique and powerful stories so I’m looking forward to hear those stories and build relationships with folks,” Roman wrote. “I look forward to once I settle in to be able to meet with folks over coffee and just get to know people. I hope folks stop by my office and say hi.”