St.Francis appoints first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer

This past week, St. Francis college announced that Jeanne Arnold, Ed.D., will serve as the school’s first permanent Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. Starting July 1, Dr. Arnold will work directly with the college’s president, Miguel Martinez-Saenz, Ph.D., to oversee programs and practices that will support the school’s diverse student body.

“Dr. Arnold will be instrumental as the College continues to embrace its Franciscan commitment to being an inclusive community where all members feel like they belong,” President Martinez-Saenz wrote in a statement. “I’m absolutely thrilled she accepted our invitation to join the SFC family.”

Dr. Arnold has previously worked as the Chief Diversity Officer at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Among her dozens of professional and leadership achievements include serving on the Board of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education since 2012.

“It is my privilege to join St. Francis College, and I am truly delighted to work with the President and the entire SFC family to elevate the College’s longstanding tradition of nurturing a hospitable environment through the development and implementation of a sustainable infrastructure to support DEI strategies,” Dr. Arnold wrote in her own statement.

St. Francis College has a greatly diverse student body, with 24% of students identifying as Black and 28% as Hispanic. Women make up more than 60% of all students and the majority of the College’s full-time faculty. Ten percent of the student body consists of international students, with students from over 70 countries.

St. Francis College has also been in the headlines for its recently announced plans to move to a newly-designed campus in the center of Downtown Brooklyn. The relocation will move the school a few blocks away from its current location on 180 Remsen Street and into a new 254,699 square foot space across the fifth, six, and seventh floors of the Wheeler Building at 181 Livingston Street.

After the announcement a number of alumni expressed concerns about the future of the 162-year-old Franciscan institution, prompting our paper to speak one-on-one with President Miguel Martinez-Saenz to discuss the college’s plans.

In the interview, President Martinez-Saenz explained that it would cost more to renovate the Remsen Street property than it would to move to the new Livingston Street property. He also explained that the move would not impact any of the school’s academic and athletic programs, both of which are slated to continue without interruption during the move.

The school plans to sell a portion of the Remsen Street property, but is yet to solidify those plans. Our paper will report on the matter as soon as a decision is made.

Both the campus move and Dr. Arnold’s appointment as Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer are part of the school’s larger SFC Forward initiative, a long term plan to modernize and make St. Francis competitive in the 21-st century. Under SFC Forward, the college will offer new master of science degrees in exercise and sport science, special education, sports management and public health. The school also plans on modifying its undergraduate education to offer more global perspectives and to allow for more remote learning options.

“It’s particularly exciting to be part of SFC Forward, as we prepare to move to a new campus to serve our diverse community of students, faculty and staff in even more creative and innovative ways,” Dr. Arnold wrote in her statement.

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