MU selects interim chief diversity officer

Friday, September 9, 2011 | 6:44 p.m. CDT; updated 8:36 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 9, 2011

COLUMBIA — After training officers in the armed forces and police in cultural competency, interim Chief Diversity Officer Noor Azizan-Gardner will now do the same with MU students, faculty and staff.

Azizan-Gardner was appointed Sept. 7 to lead the chancellor's diversity initiative by deputy chancellor Mike Middleton.

"The reality of living in the U.S. is that we are an increasingly diverse nation," Azizan-Gardner said. "We are all globally connected to the rest of the world."

She has worked with the initiative since its creation in 2006 and in the fields of diversity and teaching cultural competence for more than 18 years.

"She's so passionate, and she's like a mentor," student coordinator of "You in Mizzou," Yuan Gao, said. "We (the initiative) are thinking about how to reach across and let more students know about our programs."

Azizan-Gardner previously taught U.S. Air Force colonels how to deal with diversity issues in Montgomery, Ala. She works with the Columbia police chief on a committee for reducing bias in the police force.

Interim chief diversity officer is her second position with the initiative; her first and continuing position is director of diversity programming and professional development.

Azizan-Gardner succeeds Roger Worthington, who stepped down as in June. Worthington will return from leave in January to continue teaching in the College of Education's department of educational, school and counseling psychology.

Programs in the initiative include "Difficult Dialogues," a discussion series on complex diversity issues, and "Cultural Competency and Leadership," a series of workshops meant to develop leaders' skills in handling diverse work environments.

A recent campaign in the the initiative is to continue encouraging students and faculty to "See-it, Hear-it, Report-it."

Students should report hate incidents or anything that falls under the umbrella of bias to the bias incident report form, Azizan-Gardner said. "We need to make more people aware of it."

A campus climate study will be conducted this fall, which will be the third time the initiative has surveyed MU students. The study measures how students perceive the climate of diversity on campus and how many have experienced harassment or have heard or been called derogatory remarks.

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