USD Zoom Call on Search for New Associate VP of Diversity

On December 10, 2020, USD held a Zoom meeting to discuss the University’s search for a new Associate VP of Diversity. The meeting can be viewed here: (The discussion starts at the 11:32 mark in the video.) The comments from the Zoom call are provided below.

(USD had previously published the Zoom call and comments from the meeting online at, which was accessible to the general public. However, USD subsequently took the files down.)

Comments from the Zoom Call

00:17:54              Κλέων:  I’m Clayton Lehmann, Dept of History and a native South Dakota.  You see from the videos and profile pictures that ours is an overwhelmingly undiverse community, so the profile for this search must be someone who has creative ideas for correcting the problem.  What experience has your company had placing people in rural midwestern institutions?

00:18:30              Linda Halliburton:             Related to the above, they need to understand what it will be like to live and work in a community like Vermillion.

00:27:56              Michael Card:    As you can see from the count of people on the call is that there are lots of allies.

00:28:59              Cat Hosford:       Working with student government and other student organizations to promote inclusion, equity, and diversity not only in our campus, but our community as a whole.

00:28:59              Julia Hellwege:   i would also encourage you as the search leaders to work with the community, including the human relations commission and the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce

00:30:43              Julia Hellwege:   Home rule charter means that we have the ability to make policy on areas in which the state does not prevent us to do so.

00:32:04              Michael Card:    There is also much diversity in the USD student body at the Community College for Sioux Falls — not a branch campus, but an enrollment center in Sioux Falls.

00:32:34              Thea Miller Ryan:             I agree with what Michael said above. 🙂

00:32:51              Mandie Weinandt (she/her):        Thank you, Greg!!  Community needs to be more than just Verm.

00:33:46              Megan Red Shirt-Shaw:  That community also includes the nine federally recognized tribal nations here in the state

00:35:10              Greg Boris:          I second the point about knowing the history

00:35:14              Donis Drappeau, USD SSOM:       Thank you for stating that Sarah!

00:36:19      Yes, I agree that knowing the history of South Dakota is incredibly important. And also a clear understanding of the current political climate in the state. 

00:36:33              Megan Taylor:   I concur with the input that deep experience with and understanding of the Indigenous population is vital to USD and the state as the flagship university.

00:38:38              Greg Boris:          agree about the conservative climate and resistance to diversity issues

00:40:23              Donis Drappeau, USD SSOM:       Great point Mandie

00:42:38              David Alexander:              Difficulty is to create change without creating a negative reaction from people who don’t feel they need to change

00:44:04      Agreed, Elise, that was a concern of mine, as well re: finances.

00:44:16              Κλέων:  Clayton Lehmann again.  The problem of the conservative character of the legislature is not merely lack of understanding, which can be addressed by education and explanation, but active resistance to the desirability of diversity and some very active legislators who follow an evil agenda of advancing their racism and bigotry by shaping state law–here we need someone who can go beyond explanation to identifying and calling out evil.

00:46:16              Michael Card:    Saeed is on target.  Prior Directors of Diversity and Inclusion did not have computer resources, printing capabilities, etc. 

00:47:45              Κλέων:  With respect to staffing, although I agree the office should not be hidden on third floor Slagle, I think the new officer should resist administrative creep, which I have seen (in my over thirty years) alienate students and facult and, break down their good will and eagerness to participate in solving common problems.

00:51:19              Patti Berg-Poppe:             This is an excellent point, April.

00:52:30              Donis Drappeau, USD SSOM:       Collaboration vs silo-ing. Yes April!

00:53:13      Well-stated, April.

00:54:32              Julia Hellwege:   I absolutely agree with the soft-skills, and this goes back to communication skills as well. I would also add though, that it would be very beneficial if the person coming in had some hard skills, e.g. ability to work with data and bring forth evidence based reporting to the administration.

00:55:56              Michael Card:    Given the challenges/opportunities, it seems that the person selected will also have to develop with the help of individuals such as those on this meeting, set priorities for action. 

00:56:07              David Alexander:              the challenge is how to get synergy towards the overall goals from the various pockets of support.

00:56:45              Mandie Weinandt (she/her):        Thanks Brian!  That support needs to go beyond money.

00:58:12              Linda Halliburton:             In addition to being a collaborator, it is critical that the person be an influencer.

00:59:14              Donis Drappeau, USD SSOM:       I agree Elise!

01:01:07              Brittany.E.Wagner:          The last CDO reported to the president.

01:01:36              Brittany.E.Wagner:          And the CDO is a permanent member on EC.

01:03:23              Michelle Van Maanen:    Low salaries are a part of the turnover issue, this is especially true for the VP of Diversity position.

01:05:41              Ariel Wai:            There is also a view by many people at USD, in the community as a whole, and across the state that people who are not from South Dakota are always outsiders, and not treated the same as South Dakotans. Whether this is a purposeful viewpoint or intrinsic, the othering is real and i think that will be challenge with a national search as well

01:06:08              Michael Card:    The Deans have tuition resources under the RCM model.  The administration can adjust the state funding and tuition dollars, and the Executive Council and Deans tend to point to the other group  for resources.

01:08:17              Christine Lesher:              Thank you, I have another meeting. Have a good day!

01:08:31      Yes, Lindsey, thank you for that point!

01:08:47              Brian Burrell:      thank you for efforts on this

01:08:54              Tse Chi “Chad” Yen 顏澤祺 USD (he/him/his):      Excuse me, how could I request a copy of the recording?  I had an appointment with a student prior so couldn’t join until later 🙂 Thank you!

01:10:09              Dante Warren:   Thanks Tse Chi, I have the same question.

01:10:32              Donis Drappeau, USD SSOM:       Thank each of you for providing your thoughts and concerns for this very important position. The hope is to do some great things for our students, staff and faculty of color and overall. Have a great day 🙂 Donis Drappeau

01:10:33                   Yes, this meeting is being recorded and can be shared.

01:11:24              Michael Card:    Thanks for lstening

01:11:24              Tse Chi “Chad” Yen 顏澤祺 USD (he/him/his):      Thanks everyone!

01:11:24              Patti Berg-Poppe:             thank you!

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