Questions about possible equity chief position get lukewarm response from CFCC President
At last Thursday’s Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees meeting, board member Deborah Dicks Maxwell asked President Jim Morton about creating a new equity position — Morton didn't seem interested.
The bulk of the meeting was taken up by President Morton’s year-in-review presentation, touting the college’s growth and success — including a host of new programs and generally positive enrollment and financial outlook, given the pandemic.
The presentation was met with applause — followed by a question from recently appointed board member Deborah Dicks Maxwell, who asked if CFCC would follow the lead of New Hanover County, the school district, Wilmington, and in creating a position for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).
“Is there still consideration for EDI, because the city, the county have done those positions also," she asked.
Morton told Dicks Maxwell he hadn’t heard her question, so she asked more forcefully, “EDI – equity, diversity and inclusion as a full time position…”
Morton suggested that the college was already addressing EDI concerns without a chief equity officer position and pointed to financial concerns.
“We're doing it the top down method, everybody's looking at that… and frankly our budget’s been really tight," Morton said, adding he was concerned about sustaining some of the programs the college has recently launched.
Morton said he thought the college was doing "an excellent job" on diversity, and board member Mary Lyons Rouse agreed, pointing to Morton's presentation and saying, "we're excelling in a lot of areas."
CFCC does has have a director focusing on graduation, retention, and transferring of "underrepresented populations of students," at the college's Nixon center. However, it's not the same cabinet-level status as equity chief positions at other institutions, with oversight over all departments.
Dicks Maxwell argued the college had more work to do — but the issue was left unresolved, for the time being.