Dr. Diane Ariza has been named as Southern’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, following a national search for this new senior leadership position.
“When she assumes her new role in July, Diane will bring with her more than two decades’ experience of administrative leadership in social justice and a background of teaching and research in ethnic studies,’” said President Joe Bertolino. “Her strategic vision will be invaluable in advancing the important and meaningful work that is already happening on campus as we establish Southern as a social justice university for Connecticut.”
Having worked at several large- and medium-sized institutions, Ariza has in-depth knowledge of both academic and student affairs. She has worked with senior officers on campus-wide strategic plans focused on increasing and retaining the number of underrepresented students, faculty and staff through programming, mentorship, and the development of institutional policies.
Additionally, her service with the National Association for Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) Conference, where she is now an at-large board member, has afforded her the privilege to work with leaders in higher education working toward inclusive excellence through institutional transformation, Bertolino said.
Most recently, Ariza served as Chief Diversity Officer at Quinnipiac University, and is currently Vice President for Community and Belonging at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. As an administrator and strategist at both institutions, she has worked with senior leadership teams to promote greater access and inclusion through systematic and structural change, ensuring that all students, faculty, and staff reach their fullest potential.
“At Nazareth, an important responsibility for Diane is to engage the campus and beyond to help define, enable, and foster a community of belonging with a social justice lens – a task that resonates fully with our initiatives here at Southern,” Bertolino said. “I am confident that her blend of experience and accomplishment will further our efforts to build an inclusive, welcoming environment on campus.”
Earlier in her higher education career, Ariza was an assistant professor of ethnic studies at Albion College, Mich. She has published about the Black and Latino student experience on a predominantly white campus and also on Florida’s Puerto Rican and second-generation Hispanic communities and the challenges they face in education, identity, and adaptation. In 2015, Ariza was part of a NADOHE delegation to Cuba and contributed to a compilation of perspectives about issues of race, gender, cultural identity, and the African experience in Cuba.
Her research interests have included: internationalization and multicultural competency efforts in higher education; comparative global studies in immigration; Caribbean migration identity; health disparities; and race and ethnic relations.
Ariza holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Sociology from Western Michigan University (WMU) with a concentration in ethnic and race relations, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology from WMU. Her bachelor’s degree is in history and Spanish from Stetson University in Florida.