Newly appointed chief diversity officer will address inclusion on campus

By Tori Pender

Rider has many new faces on campus this semester. including the inaugural Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, Barbara Lawrence.

Lawrence will serve as a member of President Gregory Dell’Omo’s cabinet and is tasked with leading Rider’s strategic direction for inclusive excellence.

Lawrence did not respond to multiple interview requests from The Rider News since Sept. 3.

“I am excited to join the Rider community as we address critical issues of diversity, equity and inclusion together,” Lawrence said in a university press release.

Leanna Fenneberg, vice president for student affairs, was a part of the 16-person search committee that consisted of faculty, staff and students. The committee interviewed nine semi-finalists and found three finalists for the position of chief diversity officer before ultimately choosing Lawrence.

Fenneberg said, “Barbara immediately struck me as warm, reflective and genuine. That impression has continued to solidify in the time I’ve gotten to know her. Barbara sees the best in people, and wants to connect with people to drive meaningful and positive change.”

“Barbara brings a wide array of skills and experience in diversity, equity and inclusion work, including serving in the role of vice president for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Guilford College,” said Fenneberg. “She additionally has a wealth of perspective as a faculty member, previously serving as associate professor in criminal justice and community and justice studies.”

Before working in higher education, Lawrence spent 12 years in the New York Police Department as a police officer, where she wrote a national law enforcement model for responding to domestic violence along with curricula for cultural diversity training.

“Throughout the search process, as a candidate, Barbara centered students in our discussions,” explained Fenneberg. “She is clearly motivated to improve the student experience and additionally understands the complex institutional improvements that influence that experience.”

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