Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community: Over the last several months, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, administrators and trustees have engaged in constructive, collaborative and respectful dialogue. The Board of Trustees created a Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity…
Keith A. Alford Appointed Interim Chief Diversity Officer
Chancellor Kent Syverud has appointed Professor Keith A. Alford to the newly created post of interim chief diversity officer (CDO), effective July 1. Alford is an associate professor, chair of the Falk College’s School of Social Work and graduate program director. The Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion recommended that a CDO position be created to strengthen the University’s diversity initiatives.
“Dr. Alford will play a critical role in our ongoing efforts to identify and propose solutions to ensure a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Syverud says. “He has proven himself to be an innovative leader who inspires new ways of thinking about important and sometimes controversial issues. Anyone who attended our Campus Conversation event last April observed how–as moderator–Dr. Alford brought together diverse viewpoints, listened and responded in thoughtful ways to difficult issues, and helped unite our community in a common purpose.”
Established in fall 2015, the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion developed wide-ranging recommendations aimed at creating a more welcoming, respectful campus climate. As recommended, the chief diversity officer reports directly to the Chancellor, serves on the Chancellor’s Executive Team and provides executive leadership, oversight and vision in the administration of services, programs, policies and procedures related to advancing Syracuse University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Alford will also serve as a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Council, an advisory group that was created at the recommendation of the workgroup, and support a formal search to begin yet this summer for a permanent chief diversity officer.
“I am pleased to serve in this new role,” says Alford. “We are fortunate as a leading university to have several initiatives already in place that are working toward greater appreciation of diversity and inclusion on multiple levels. Progress is happening right now. However, we must remain vigilant and steadfast in our introspective efforts, individually and collectively, so that the lived experience of every member of Syracuse University is respected and embraced. Deeper understanding is needed. We will build on our strengths and engage in the critical work ahead, remembering that dignity and worth of humankind are cornerstones for positive coexistence.”
Alford received a Ph.D. from the College of Social Work at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He earned a master of social work also from OSU, and a bachelor of arts degree in history and sociology from Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina.
Alford’s areas of specialization include mental health service delivery to children and families, culturally specific programming for children in out-of-home care, contemporary rites of passage programming, and loss/grief reactions among African American families. Through his teaching, he is involved with a National Science Foundation grant supporting the training of diverse undergraduates in conducting trauma research with veterans. He also serves on the Faculty Senate Committee on Diversity and is a member of the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council.
Alford has also provided counseling and support for undergraduate and graduate students, helping them to achieve personal and professional goals. At OSU, he organized and facilitated the African American Men’s Support Group. This year, Alford was recognized by InterFaith Works of Central New York with its Leadership Award in Creating a Civil Community. He has been affiliated with InterFaith Works for more than 22 years as a facilitator of communitywide dialogue circles to end racism. Alford’s work has also been recognized by Bethany Baptist Church with the Harriet Tubman Spirit Award and by Syracuse University with the Martin Luther King Jr. Unsung Hero Award.
About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private, international research university with distinctive academics, diversely unique offerings and an undeniable spirit. Located in the geographic heart of New York State, with a global footprint, and nearly 150 years of history, Syracuse University offers a quintessential college experience. The scope of Syracuse University is a testament to its strengths: a pioneering history dating back to 1870; a choice of more than 200 majors and 100 minors offered through 13 schools and colleges; nearly 15,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students; more than a quarter of a million alumni in 160 countries; and a student population from all 50 U.S. states and 123 countries. For more information, please visit http://syracuse.edu.