Sean Huddleston, who currently serves as the chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement at Framingham State University in Massachusetts will take over next year as the first vice president for equity and inclusion at the University of Indianapolis.
“We started back in September developing the position and talking to stakeholders to see what kind of qualities we want[ed] in a candidate,” said Associate Vice President of the Professional Edge Center and co-chair of the search committee Corey Wilson. “We received over 100 applications for the position.”
After mulling over dozens of candidates, members of the search committee thought Huddleston’s work experience and vision made him the best fit for UIndy.
“I think Sean was the right person at the right time for the university,” Wilson said. “He brought forward the skill set in the form of his past work at the various universities where he had been employed. He has been in an environment where he has started an equity and inclusion office from scratch, and he had the right temperament.”
Huddleston, originally from Detroit, Mich., said he was grateful to have been given the opportunity by the university. He said a colleague of his referred him to the position, knowing he was interested in moving back to the Midwest.
While there are many diversity programs already active on campus, Huddleston will be UIndy’s first vice president for equity and inclusion.
“My responsibility is essentially to create a vision and lead initiatives that focus on building an inclusive and continuously welcoming environment for all students, faculty and staff,” Huddleston said.
While Huddleston said he has plans for the university, he first just wants to get a feel for the people and programs.
“My first task, when I get there, is to listen and learn as much as I can,” Huddleston said. “I want to make sure we are doing everything to honor some of the things that have already been done and reinforce some of the things we know that have already been helping inclusion and equity…. We want to take a look at the low-hanging fruit, those things that are out there that may need just a little bit more focus to get accomplished.”
According to Wilson, Huddleston’s past success at Framingham State University, especially receiving the prestigious Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, made him the right person to take effective action to improve diversity and inclusion.
“I think it is looking at the overall subject of inclusive excellence and figuring out ways that we can embrace that topic on campus,” Wilson said. “…. Inclusive excellence—to me—denotes action, and that’s something I’m hoping Sean will bring forward.”
According to Huddleston, in an ever-changing world, evolving as a campus to match the needs of everyone is important.
“It’s important for us to pay attention to inequities, especially around education, so we can try to eliminate them while making sure everyone is growing at the same rate,” Huddleston said. “We want to be able to work with everyone so we can move forward as an entire human race.”
Huddleston will not start officially working at UIndy until June, but he is looking forward to the opportunity.
“I came in for my interviews in January and fell in love with that campus,” Huddleston said. “It is an absolutely beautiful campus, and I am so looking forward to being there every day.”