Whitney Harris appointed executive director of diversity for MnSCU

Posted: May 16, 2005

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Whitney Harris

Whitney Harris

Committed to expanding access for traditionally underserved groups, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has appointed Whitney G. Harris to be the system's new executive director of diversity and multiculturalism.

Currently director of diversity and affirmative action at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Harris will assume his new duties July 1. He replaces Dolores Fridge, who left last year for another position.

"We believe Dr. Harris will put the system on firm ground for fulfilling the system's diversity and Equal Opportunity goals and strategy," said Chancellor James H. McCormick, who appointed Harris. "As a seasoned diversity director, Dr. Harris brings a multitude of skills, talents and educational experiences to this important position."

In accepting the appointment, Harris, who is 53, said, "The opportunity to see diversity in many different environments from community colleges and technical colleges to universities will be a new dimension in my experience. I am excited to join this system and contribute my talents to the great efforts already underway."

Harris has been at Eastern Michigan University since September 2001. Previously, he served in various capacities at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., from 1990 to 2001. Those positions included vice president of special services and equity, executive director for human relations and social equity, and director, equal opportunity/minority affairs. He became a tenured professor in the Burton College of Education at McNeese in 1996.

From 1995 to 2001, he was an impartial hearing officer for the Louisiana Department of Social Services. He began his professional career as a special education teacher.

Also, he has been an adjunct in the Department of Women and Gender Studies at Eastern Michigan University, an adjunct professor in the graduate school of the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio and a youth consultant at the Southern Development Foundation in Lafayette, La. He has had numerous papers published on African-American males in such journals as the Journal of African American Studies, the Journal of Men's Studies and Black Issues in Higher Education.

His affiliations include membership in the American Association for Affirmative Action, Phi Kappa Pi Honor Society, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American Civil Liberties Union, Phi Delta Kappa, the National Human Rights Campaign and the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is a past president of the African-Americans in Louisiana Higher Education and a current board member of the American Men's Studies Association, Michigan Equality and The Ruth Ellis Center.

He holds a doctorate in educational foundations and administration from The Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, a master's degree in special education and psychology from Louisiana State University, degrees in theology from the University of Ottawa and St. Paul University in Ottawa, and a bachelor's degree with honors in special education and elementary education from McNeese State University. In 1996, he earned a certificate in higher education from the Harvard Management Development Program.

Search committee members included co-chairs Josephine Reed-Taylor, senior vice president at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and Mike Lopez, associate vice chancellor for student affairs in the system office; Ellis Bullock, executive director of the Grotto Foundation; Joe Day, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council; Julia Opoti, Student Senate president at Metropolitan State University; and Carmen Mahlum, cultural diversity director at Winona State University.