Chief Diversity Officer search continues

By Sara Scheler 

This summer, after a lengthy and comprehensive search, numerous interviews with faculty, staff and students, and a great deal of anticipation, President Donna Carroll announced that Kenneth Durgans would be joining Dominican’s staff as the university’s first chief diversity officer (CDO). Shortly thereafter, Carroll received information that made her rethink this decision.

Roberta McMahon, director of Human Resources, said, “We were made aware of circumstances that made us questions his departure from Indiana University-Purdue University (UPUI).” Durgans served as assistant chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion at IUPUI for over four years.

“There were some work-related discrepancies,” said Carroll. This prompted further investigation and, ultimately, caused Carroll to rescind the job offer. “It was unfortunate and disappointing to us but better for the university and better for the candidate,” she said.

IUPUI officials declined to comment, despite multiple attempts to get an explanation of Durgans’ resignation. Durgans himself could not be reached for comment.

Both Carroll and McMahon said the search committee practiced due diligence during the hiring process. Durgans’ departure from IUPUI was listed as a resignation and none of his reference checks were suspicious.

“We had an outstanding search and a great search committee,” said McMahon. The search committee did many reference checks, made 15 phone calls and brought three of the top candidates to campus. They then passed their recommendations on to Carroll, who made the final decision. McMahon said Durgans was a top choice because of his previous experience as executive director for diversity development Xavier University, which fit well with Dominican’s Catholic mission.

The search committee met last week to re-launch the search. Christiana Perez, director of the Women and Gender Studies program, currently serves as Dominican’s Interim CDO and will hold this position for the fall semester and the spring, if necessary.

Carroll is confident that the second search will end positively. “I suspect we will have another strong pool of candidates and another six months of internal work will put us in an even stronger position.”

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