Moraine Valley Community College has hired Rory Smith to be the inaugural executive director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The new position was created to help the college live out and emphasize its core values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) on campus.

Smith believes everyone is better off when student-specific solutions are sought, and his goal is to help the college generate those solutions to make additional improvements. He intends to work with every group involved with the college from the Board of Trustees to students to faculty and the community.

“Education is not one size fits all. What is the context of each individual student that walks in the door? We have to ask, ‘What is it you need, and what can we uniquely provide you?’,” he said. “My job is to create new possibilities for students. In DEI, it’s about recognizing the importance and respecting the difference of everyone. It’s about making sure they have a role in the decision making and then generating the equitable outcome that relates to them specifically for the mission we’re all here for.”

Smith has a history of building DEI positions from the ground up as he was tapped to do so at each of his previous employers. A lawyer by trade, he began recruiting diverse lawyers for the firms where he worked. As inaugural director of Diversity Affairs at the John Marshall Law School (now the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law), he developed programming to assist students of color with academic readiness. He then created his own DEI consulting firm, assisting organizations with DEI. After eight years, he went back to education, becoming the first chief of diversity at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. He returned to Chicago and brought his skills to Moraine Valley.

“Rory brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this new role. He has a passion to guide the college further toward a diverse staff that services a diverse student body. He is eager to meet with staff and students to understand our history and work toward an equitable future,” said Rick Hendricks, vice president of Administrative Services.

Smith has ideas about what the college can do, but for now, he’s getting to know people and the work Moraine Valley already has done in this area so he can better understand what is needed. To start, he will look at the college’s strategic plan.

“I feel a great deal of welcome, and sense of inclusion and sharing of what’s been done. I also want to hear about things we’re concerned about, and how we talk about this work and make it so we can have difficult conversations in courageous and respectful ways,” Smith said. “Recognizing all of those things together is how we generate what we hope for our students. There’s great possibility for us, for our students and for society because of this work.”

 

For news media inquiries, contact Jessica Crotty, assistant director of Communications, at (708) 974-5281 or crotty@morainevalley.edu.