Joey Abrams ‘23
Over the past few years, the Holy Cross administration and Board of Trustees have ushered in a round of new initiatives to support diversity and inclusion on campus. With a student population that is over 30 percent non-white, complimented by a non-white 36 percent of tenure-track professors, new programs like the Anti-Racism Action Plan and a permanent committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) on the Board of Trustees have been much welcomed. The changes haven’t stopped there, however, as the College announced the recruitment of Tomicka Wagstaff as the new vice provost of DEI in a very exciting address last week. Wagstaff, a seasoned professional in the field of anti-racism and student inclusion, brings a thorough background of leadership and policy to the position. As vice provost, she will use her past experience to influence policy and lead racially aware initiatives to benefit the College’s mission of diversity.
Wagstaff expressed her excitement at the new role in last week’s announcement: “It is truly an honor and a blessing to be joining the Holy Cross family as the vice provost for diversity, equity and inclusion”. She then elaborated on the existing state of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the College and spoke on the positive direction that she wants to build off of: “There has already been a lot of intentional and meaningful work done in the area of DEI. I look forward to being a thought partner with campus stakeholders as I aim to create a culture of care and belonging for all community members.”
President Rougeau expressed his enthusiasm as well, stating in the announcement that “We are thrilled to welcome Tomicka Wagstaff to Holy Cross as our new vice provost” before listing her many accomplishments. Most recently, Wagstaff has served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Access and Success at the Rochester Institute of Technology and co-chair of the institute’s plan for anti-racism, where she will serve until she officially joins the campus community in January. Of the many achievements that comprise her impressive tenure at RIT, implementing diversity and equity curriculum as well as overseeing the elimination of student achievement gaps represent only a few. In fact, her initiatives aimed at eliminating achievement gaps led to a 15 percent increase in graduation rates among underrepresented students.
In the announcement, President Rougeau praised Wagstaff’s track record: “Dr. Wagstaff distinguished herself from other finalists through her creative and calculable DEI work, and nationally respected experience in promoting anti-racism and inclusion on a college campus. I know Tomicka will be a fearless advocate for our community, and will provide the leadership necessary to embolden our community to continue to make real, meaningful and lasting change.”
Wagstaff holds a bachelor of science in sociology and a master of science in student personnel administration from Buffalo State College with a doctorate in higher education from the University of Rochester. The new vice provost was chosen after a nationwide search conducted by a faculty-led search committee. Let students and faculty join together to welcome Tomicka Wagstaff to campus next month.