In an email to the community on Tuesday, President Clayton Rose announced that Senior Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity Michael Reed will be retiring on September 30.
Reed joined the College in 2018 as the inaugural Senior Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity. He previously held similar roles at Williams College and Dickinson and brought his decades of experience to Bowdoin to help create institutional change. Reed will be stepping away from his role at the College to focus on his health.
“I’ve been doing diversity work for the majority of my life—even before it was called ‘diversity work’—working with people who were marginalized and helping them to succeed,” Reed said.
When Reed arrived at Bowdoin in 2018, the College did not have the Office of Inclusion and Diversity which Reed worked to build. The Office was created based on the Charles/Kramer report after an ad hoc committee of faculty, staff, student and trustees examined issues of race, ethnicity and inclusion on campus. This effort was what attracted Reed to campus initially when he left Dickinson.
“It was evident to me that, number one, Bowdoin had done its homework. They invested a tremendous amount of time and energy into trying to do this right and getting it right. And number two, there was commitment to doing this work from the very top,” Reed said.
Reed has graciously offered his advice and guidance to President Rose for the remainder of the academic year regarding the next steps of Bowdoin’s diversity and inclusion work.
“Michael has played a pivotal role in creating the next chapter in our work at Bowdoin on racial justice, including the three pillars of sustained programming and education, changes in practices and structures, and efforts to better understand our institutional history with regard to race,” wrote President Rose in his email to the campus community. “I am very pleased that Michael has agreed to be available to me for the rest of this academic year to provide his advice and guidance.”
Now, four years after he arrived at Bowdoin, Reed has worked to help build a more inclusive space across campus and is beginning to reflect on his lasting impact.
“[Bowdoin will be] in a much better position to construct something that number one will not be reliant on an individual, but will be an infrastructure that can sustain the College’s efforts to continue to be more diverse and inclusive—regardless of who’s at the helm. And I feel pretty good that we’ve done that,” Reed said.
“I said this from the beginning—was building what I call ‘the distributive model.’ [T]hat is where we were increasing the internal capacity to do this work across divisions, so there wasn’t a single entity that was responsible for leading and getting this done, but it was more, ‘how do we build the skill sets in student affairs?’ How do we build the skill sets in academic affairs? How do we strengthen and build the skill sets in alumni relations? How do we strengthen and build the skill sets to do this work in information technology, in the museum, in the library?’”
Moving forward, Benje Douglas, Associate Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity and Director of Title IX, Gender Violence Prevention and Education and Dharni Vasudevan, Stanley F. Druckenmiller Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies and Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Inclusion will help to fill Michael Reed’s shoes for the remainder of the year with President Rose’s help.