BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The chief academic diversity and inclusion officers of the Southeastern Conference met recently at the SEC Office in Birmingham. The three-day gathering was the first in-person opportunity for the group in several years and the first ever at the Conference headquarters.
The meeting was organized by the Auburn University Office of Inclusion and Diversity, led by Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton, Auburn’s vice president and associate provost for inclusion and diversity. Conducted March 29-31, the senior administrators met with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin; and they also visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Innovation Depot.
“Attention to diversity and inclusion should be central in the operation of any institution of higher learning and having an opportunity to engage with colleagues to compare notes and think critically about how to position our universities for the future is crucial,” Dr. Benson Clayton said. “And on behalf of all of the SEC chief diversity and inclusion officers, I want to thank Commissioner Sankey and his staff for so warmly welcoming us to Birmingham. We have shared goals, and together we can move our universities, states and regions forward toward a changing future.”
Each SEC university maintains a unit focused on matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The individuals who lead these units have a range of responsibilities that typically include strategic planning around institutional diversity and inclusion; programming and support for faculty, students, and staff; and many work closely with the diversity and inclusion leaders from their institution’s athletics departments.
Several of the academic diversity and inclusion officers serve on the SEC Council on Racial Equity and Social Justice, which was established in 2020 as a league-wide body consisting of student-athletes, administrators, and head coaches tasked with identifying resources and outlining strategies aimed at ending racism and discrimination in intercollegiate athletics. One outgrowth of the Council’s work is joint meetings between the SEC academic and athletics diversity and inclusion leaders.
The academic diversity and inclusion officers plan to re-establish their annual, on-campus meetings in the upcoming academic year.
Visit www.SECSports.com/equality for more on the SEC’s diversity and inclusion efforts.