President says pandemic highlights need for further inclusion and diversity

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SAWYER LOFTUS/Vermont Cynic

President Suresh Garimella addresses assembled media at a press conference, Nov. 14.

Despite challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, UVM has announced that it is expanding the position in the administration focussed on diversity. 

President Suresh Garimella stated Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant will assume the expanded role of vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion starting May 1, in an April 17 email. 

“In this complex climate we find ourselves in, the situation demands that we reenergize our actions to address diversity, equity and inclusion issues as forcefully and intentionally as possible,” the email stated.

The email also stated some changes to the Human Resources services department. 

Jes Kraus will assume the role of chief human resources officer. He will report to Vice President of Finance Richard Cate, but will also have a more direct relationship with the president, according to the email.

Previously, Kraus had reported to Heading-Grant who reported to the president as vice president for human resources, diversity and multicultural affairs. 

Heading-Grant will now work closely with both the Offices of the President and Provost, the email stated. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to prioritize inclusivity, the email stated, although it did not specify how. 

“We are eager to ensure that the University’s resolve to make excellence inclusive of everyone remains undiminished,” Garimella stated.

Heading-Grant has worked at UVM for almost 30 years and graduated from UVM with a degree in social work.