Though the majority of recent news coming out of the President’s office has focused on budget problems and spending cuts, over break there was rare news of expansion.
The week before the start of spring semester, the College announced the addition of a new vice president position with the promotion of Elena Bernal ’94 to vice president of Diversity and Achievement. Bernal, who was serving as special assistant to the president for Diversity and Achievement, will change more in title than in role.
“We’re not changing the job very much, we’re recognizing that things are going well and giving her a title that fits with the rest of the liberal arts college,” said President Russell K. Osgood.
Bernal’s role as vice president is similar to her previous post as special assistant. Bernal continues to oversee campus diversity enrichment programs such as Posse and Grinnell Diversity Leaders Program, to work with faculty in hiring and maintaining diverse faculty, and to set up administrative accountability to ensure that admissions engages in multicultural recruitment.
Bernal said that while her role may not seem to change much, it represents a step towards an increased emphasis on diversity. “It’s not one particular thing I’m doing,” Bernal said of her position. “But it’s monitoring across several areas, how diversity and equality come into play on campus.”
The biggest change in Bernal’s position is that she will now supervise the Office of Institutional Research, which is conducting research for the Campus Climate Project, an investigation of student, staff and faculty attitudes regarding diversity on campus. Bernal previously was the head of Institutional Research at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania before she came to work at Grinnell last year.
Bernal will continue to work as the administrative liaison to students for the Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles Posses. “She’s been sort of a stronghold for me,” said L.A. Posse member Steven Cross ’11.
Osgood said that with Bernal’s promotion he hopes Bernal’s will bolster the environment of diversity on campus. “Successful diversity is a culture in which people are comfortable with the differences between them and learn from them,” he said.