VPID finalist Ervin seeks out collaboration in campus diversity


The final candidate for the Vice President of Institute Diversity (VPID), Archie Ervin, made his public presentation on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the Global Learning Center, detailing his goals to develop a road map of the next 25 years.

“It is clearly understood that the Georgia Tech of tomorrow and its future success is contingent upon the collective ability to engage, embrace and leverage diversity in all its forms,” Ervin said. “It is not sufficient to build and improve a diversity world presence. The challenge is to create a community of scholars and learners who feel valued, respected and welcomed.”

Ervin currently works as the Associate Provost for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. As a cabinet member with the university’s top administration, he has acted as the head advisor on campus regarding diversity initiatives and policies, and he has chaired diversity assessment and related planning committees on campus. His most recent project has been leading an initiative to found a statewide association of diversity officers.

“I have been very fortunate to provide the leadership for the development of a cogent, university-wide plan for diversity,” Ervin said. “Today, that process is in place where every administrative and faculty unit is required every year…to define their goals and their plans for achieving those goals and to also report back on the outcomes of those actions over the year.”

If selected, Ervin will prioritize the production of a “Google map” of the campus community to identify people who could be potential collaborators who can contribute to the diversity priorities of the institution in order to build a “culture of inclusion.”

“Every major division of a university’s structure…must be included in the mapping process or you’ll be short,” Ervin said. “The mapping process will prove beneficial…to everybody at the institution as it helps them to better understand what the responsibilities are respective to the major mission of the university.”

Upholding the leadership and guidance roles of the VPID is also a strong point for Ervin. He believes that to be successful in the position, one must act as an effective agent of change and fulfill the capacity to manage, support and lead change.

“The real challenge is for you to figure out how you all are working together and to develop common ground for that to happen,” Ervin said.

One of the constituent groups he is most concerned about working with is faculty, referring to them as “the lifeblood of the institution,” and people cultivate the futures of students.

“They are the people we must engage with in meaningful ways and to make meaningful change,” Ervin said. “Cultivating the relationship with researchers and faculty is the greatest promise for changing the faculty of tomorrow and increasing the number of women and members of undeserved communities who actually serve in the academy of tomorrow.”

He has worked with faculty among other university officials in the last two decades of highly active work in the UNC administration as well as in both professional and youth organizations. Most of his work has been in organizational and consulting roles for diversity.

“I hope that [these goals] are common sense; however, achieving buy-in and ownership by all the constituent groups at the university holds diversity core values is much more difficult to do if you cannot develop interpersonal, consultative strategic partnerships as a plan,” Ervin said.

Ervin earned his masters degree in political science from Appalachian State University, and then he earned his doctorate degree in Educational Organizations and Policy Studies from UNC, where he has since worked.

The VPID position will be a position for formulating a diversity and inclusion strategy. The person chosen will report to the president as a cabinet member and “is charged with embracing and leveraging the talents of the entire campus community to its greatest advantage,” according to the Office of the President’s website.

Since its announcement last year, the VPID search committee has selected three candidates, all of whom have made appearances at Tech throughout the month of Sept. to present their pitches for the positions.