On Nov. 8, Nicole Butts was appointed interim presidential associate for diversity, inclusion and campus climate, a position created to address the recent incidents and allegations of racial discrimination on campus.
Butts was previously the interim director of employee diversity, inclusion and campus climate in administrative affairs. She came into her previous position earlier this year in February.
A statement released to the campus community by Cal Pol Pomona President Soraya M. Coley in early November provided background on Butts and the reason for her appointment.
The statement described Butts as “(an) experienced administrator, (with) nearly two decades working in organizational development management in both the public and private sectors, with a particular focus on promoting diversity and inclusion.”
Before coming to Cal Poly Pomona in February, Butts was the human resources director for equal employment and affirmative action at the University of California, Riverside. Before that, she held multiple positions in human resources departments for multiple companies.
Butts earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and continued her education at Bowie State University in Maryland, earning a master’s degree in human resources development.
Butts’ first duty in her new position on campus is to launch the formation of an Inclusive Excellence Council, President Coley’s statement to the university said. The council is stated to uphold CPP’s core value of inclusivity on campus as stated in the school’s Strategic Plan.
Aside from this initiative, the position of presidential associate for diversity, inclusion and campus climate has much broader tasks to see to.
“The overall purpose of the position is to help strengthen diversity, inclusion and campus climate here at Cal Poly Pomona,” Butts said.
The presidential associate for diversity, inclusion and campus climate is a cabinet position in the president’s office and will report directly to Coley.
“The reason the president wanted to make it a cabinet-level position is to make sure that this conversation around diversity and inclusion and campus climate is integrated in everything that we’re doing here on campus,” Butts said.
Following Butts’ appointment, three protests occurred on campus. The first was the March for Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals on Nov. 12. The second was an Awareness March held Nov. 1. And the third was the Red Shoe Protest held Nov. 21.
These protests were supported by the president’s office in a statement released Nov. 18. “We are grateful for the candid expressions and for those who have shared their stories. We thank you for the opportunity to continue the dialogue in the spirit of and commitment to making CPP a model of inclusivity and student success,” the statement read.
At the Red Shoe Protest, Usiomo Ujadughele, a third-year chemical engineering and material science major and one of the organizers, called for a formal indictment of racial profiling from President Coley’s office.
When asked about the call for a direct response, Butts said, “We understand what the protest is about, so I don’t know that we’re going to put out a statement that specifically speaks to racial profiling because, again, that’s a very specific and legal term. The president did put out a video and a statement around incidents that have happened on campus over the last several months. I understand that it may not have been worded as strongly as some would like, I respect that. A statement has been made more than once, but I do understand if the language doesn’t sound as direct as some would like.”
As of Nov. 21, the only plan moving forward with this new position is Butts’ structure and function proposal for the Inclusive Excellence Council.
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