Center for Diversity and Inclusion director to move to Princeton University
Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion LaTanya Buck will leave Washington University to serve as Princeton University’s new dean of diversity and inclusion beginning this August.
Buck has been a key figure in the creation and establishment of Washington University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and became its inaugural director in May 2014.
Buck was hired as the CDI’s director only two years ago, but has accomplished much throughout her short tenure at the University, according to her colleagues and students she has worked with.
Senior Clara Oh and junior Jordan Victorian both work as student ambassadors in the CDI and noted that Buck’s warm personality as one of her most endearing attributes.
“She’s definitely very personable and always seems like she’s there for the students,” Victorian said. “I’m going to miss her presence and humor, which isn’t the biggest thing she’s done, but I think as an administrator it’s important to be warm. And I think she carries that into her work.”
Oh noted that Buck’s vast knowledge of the local area has been instrumental to the Center’s success as well.
“We’re going to miss her knowledge of the St. Louis community, since she was born here and raised here and even got her Ph.D. here,” Oh said. “That knowledge is incredibly important in terms of community outreach and where Wash. U. stands as a whole in St. Louis, and you’re not going to get that from other people, who might be from a different environment.”
Buck noted that as a St. Louis native, her move will be bittersweet.
“I am extremely connected to St. Louis as a community and Missouri as a state. And so for me it is very bittersweet because a lot of my foundation is here. At the same time, I’m at a point in my professional and personal career where it’s time to move, and I firmly believe that sometimes you have to go to grow,” Buck said.
What she would miss most, she said, are the relationships she has built with students and staff.
“The students make it easy to come to work; even through some of the challenges. I’m going to miss coming into the center and just seeing students studying or lounging or engaging in conversation. Even for me, while I was very busy and spending a lot of my days in meetings, having that energy around, it sustained me,” Buck said.
Buck, however, is excited about the new opportunities that await her at Princeton University.
“This new position will allow me to work with their cultural center as well as their LGBT center and their women’s center, so I’m excited about the synergy we can create amongst those units to impact the student experience,” Buck said. “It’s a good move for me right now.”
Purvi Patel, assistant director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, said she was sad to see Buck go, but is excited for her new opportunity at Princeton.
“I’m invested in her, in her leadership, in her vision, and I’m really excited to see what she is going to continue to do for students nationally and in our field,” Patel said. “We’re certainly jealous of the Princeton students, but I’m confident that she set us up to be able to get the next person who will be able to get us to the next level.”
Rob Wild, associate vice chancellor for students, said that he was proud of Buck’s accomplishments and her recruitment.
“If you’ve followed her career, she has continued to advance as really a national leader in diversity and inclusion work. Before LaTanya [Buck] was even a candidate at Wash. U. she was advising us. It really just speaks to the fact that LaTanya [Buck] has really become an expert in this work.”
Vice Chancellor for Students Lori White noted that Buck being offered such a position exemplifies positive aspects of Washington University.
“I’m sorry they’re recruiting away our talent, but Princeton wouldn’t have recruited LaTanya [Buck] if they didn’t think she was one of the best folks in the country,” White said. “So that says a lot about Wash. U., that we recognize talent too.”
White said that a hiring committee is being put together to fill the position—which will be renamed the dean of the CDI—by Sept. 1. Vice Provost Adrienne Davis, who also co-chaired the search committee that hired Buck in 2014, will chair the committee.
Junior Alejandro Martinez, another CDI student ambassador, described his ideal candidate to replace Buck as someone who can take the foundation that has been created and continue the work going forward.
“[I’d like] someone personable who wants to have those friendships and relationships with students. Someone approachable, just a professional who can see the leadership opportunities that students have and be able to tap those opportunities and help the students grow both as a leader and as part of the CDI,” Martinez said.