December 17, 2008

Case Western Reserve University President Names Inaugural Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity


President Barbara R. Snyder Monday announced the appointment of Marilyn Sanders Mobley as Case Western Reserve University's first Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity. Mobley, currently Provost at Bennett College for Women, emerged from an exhaustive search that drew more than 130 applicants for the new, Cabinet-level position.

"Marilyn Mobley's record as a scholar and academic leader make her extraordinarily well suited to help us enhance and expand our efforts toward diversity on this campus," President Snyder said. "Her intellect, thoughtfulness and passion for these issues impressed everyone involved in the search process."

Mobley has the added advantage of knowing the university as a student. A native of Akron, Ohio, she earned her doctorate in English here in 1987, working with Professor Gary Stonum as her adviser. She has focused much of her scholarship on author Toni Morrison, African American literature, and women's literature. She served as a founding member and past president of the Toni Morrison Society and serves today as an advisory board member of the Society, an official author society of the American Literature Association. She earned her undergraduate degree in English and Education from Barnard College and her Master's Degree in English from New York University. A published author, she wrote the first cross-cultural book of its kind on Toni Morrison, and has published numerous articles on African American literature, black women writers, and the intersection of race, gender and class in literature and higher education.

Before joining Bennett College last year, Mobley spent nearly two decades at George Mason University, one of the most diverse public universities in the nation. In addition to her work as a professor in the Department of English, Women's Studies, and Cultural Studies, Mobley founded GMU's African American Studies program and served as its director for several years, working as a consultant on diversity both on campus and in the community. In 2003, she became GMU's Associate Provost for Educational Programs and served on various initiatives connected to diversity, civic engagement and global studies. Her leadership role at Bennett contributed to faculty development, changes in the curriculum, and more attention to undergraduate research. As provost and chief academic officer at the historically black college, she successfully led the efforts toward the reaffirmation of its accreditation in 18 months.

"My studies at Case Western Reserve University prepared me for a rich and rewarding career in higher education," Mobley said. "Moreover, my commitment to diversity and inclusion has shaped my work both in and outside of the classroom. It is an honor to have the opportunity to apply the knowledge I have acquired at a place that is so special to me."

The university identified Inclusiveness and Diversity as one of four "Core Values" articulated in the strategic plan adopted earlier this year. The new vice president's first tasks will include conducting an inventory of existing programs so that the institution has a collective and comprehensive sense of what is provided today—which will help inform decisions on where new or improved efforts are required. She also will serve as a champion for diversity both within the University campus and externally.

"One of the things that impressed me most in my campus visit was the energy and excitement people express about these issues and this new position," Mobley said. "Our success will depend on their continued engagement and willingness to help me learn more about Case Western Reserve University as it is today and as we shape its future together."

President Snyder also expressed deep gratitude to members of the search committee, led by chair Rhonda Y. Williams, associate professor of history. Williams worked tirelessly to learn more about exemplary diversity programs at other institutions, and also to recruit personally many of those who ultimately applied for the post. She also complimented the work of Witt/Kieffer, the search firm that assisted with the process.

"The caliber of the candidates, particularly the four finalists, was absolutely outstanding," President Snyder said. "I so appreciate the time, effort and insight the search committee members contributed, and cannot thank Professor Williams enough for her dynamic leadership."

For her part, Professor Williams expressed gratitude to all of the individuals who met with her during the search, participated in the on-campus interview process, and provided feedback to the search committee.

"This successful search was a team effort, and achieving greater diversity at Case Western Reserve also must be a team effort," said Williams. "We have hired someone with great credentials and commitment, and we must all do our part to help Dr. Mobley as she champions diversity and inclusion.

"We all know that one person, even one fantastic person, can't do this important job alone," Williams said. "President Snyder, the search committee, and I have always maintained that institutional transformation can occur with leadership, vision, collaboration, resources, and enthusiasm. I welcome Dr. Mobley and I invite the university community to stay engaged."

Mobley starts work on campus January 5.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, December 17, 2008 04:09 PM | News Topics: Alumni, Appointments, College of Arts and Sciences, HeadlinesMain, news

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.