After eight years working with the College’s Title IX office, Benje Douglas is transitioning from his position as the College’s Title IX coordinator to vice president and interim chief diversity officer.
Douglas attributed his preparation for his new role to the relationships he built in his time with the College.
In his transition into the position, Douglas partnered with Stanley F. Druckenmiller Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies and Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Inclusion Dharni Vasudevan and received mentorship from his predecessor Michael Reed.
“Those two people, you know, [Vasudevan], as a partner, and [Reed], as a leader [and] mentor to everyone, positioned me in an opportunity to understand to the best of my ability how to do this work. And I look forward to continuing to partner with [Vasudevan], and I have only positive things to say about her,” Douglas said.
In all his work with the College, Douglas stresses the importance of belonging and fostering an environment supportive of all community members.
“Belonging to me is when somebody walks into a room, and they are sitting there with all of their stuff, their race, their class, their gender, their sexuality, their sexual orientation, their sense of being, that they can just be okay,” Douglas said.
In a March 9 email to the Bowdoin community, President Clayton Rose announced Douglas’ new role, as well as three new positions joining the office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Director of Institutional Inclusion and Diversity Training, Director of Institutional Equity and Compliance and Ombudsperson. The College will embark on the hiring process for these new roles over the next few weeks.
“I very much look forward to working with Benje in this essential role at the College,” President Rose wrote.
Looking ahead at his new role, Douglas identified his goals for continuing his work with the Bowdoin community.
“I think we have to think critically on campus about how we all come together from different backgrounds, and how we can all find a place here to flourish,” Douglas said.
“Sometimes on our campus, I think it’s really important for people to show how smart they are, or how talented they are, or how thoughtful they are or how kind they are,” Douglas continued. “It’s sometimes a competition to be the most, and the best and greatest at all times. But the thing I would hope that I’ve learned over eight years here is that we’re all human beings, and that we have to be kind to ourselves first and kind to each other in equal measure.”
Douglas will maintain this role for the 2022–2023 academic year, after which the College hopes to have found a permanent replacement for Michael Reed.