Nazario-Colon will be an advocate for inclusion


Ricardo Nazario-Colon began his duties as Western Carolina University’s chief diversity officer on June 1, following a yearlong search to find a campus champion for inclusion and diversity initiatives at the university.

Previously he was the director of student activities, inclusion and leadership at Morehead State University. His hiring concluded a nationwide search for the university’s first chief diversity officer conducted by a campus committee chaired by Shea Browning, associate general counsel.

“I had 10 months of meetings with faculty, staff and students across the campus asking for their input on the characteristics they would like to see in the person who would fill this important position,” Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar said. “They told me that the university needed someone who could successfully and diplomatically champion diversity; who views diversity as more than skin color but also in terms of language, disability, sexual preference and other personal attributes; someone with the skills to educate and train; and someone who can coordinate existing efforts but also has experience generating new initiatives. I am pleased to report that’s exactly what we have found in Ricardo Nazario-Colon.”

The appointment fulfills initiatives in the university’s “2020 Vision” strategic plan calling for increasing the diversity of the student body to serve the needs of the changing demographics of the region and state, and improving the diversity among faculty and staff.

Chancellor David O. Belcher announced in his August 2014 opening assembly the launching of an “an enhanced, in-it-for-the-long-haul commitment to diversity” that would include the budget-neutral creation of a position to lead diversity efforts
on campus.

The position at WCU, which represents a restructuring of an equal opportunity and diversity programs directorship previously held by Henry Wong, is similar to others across the University of North Carolina system. The appointment of Nazario-Colon comes during a period of heightened awareness and increased conversation about issues of race and diversity across the nation, in North Carolina and
on campus.

“This position represents a major leap for the institution,” Nazario-Colon said. “By establishing a position that will shape the work of diversity, Western Carolina University recognizes how vital diversity continues to be to the educational endeavor.”