Quinnipiac reimagines our Office of Inclusive Excellence

June 17, 2024

Our Inclusive Excellence team

Quinnipiac’s fully staffed and reimagined Office of Inclusive Excellence is poised to make a greater impact than ever as it continues to define, enable and foster an inclusive culture embracing the diversity of identities, ideas and values for students, faculty and staff.

Interim Vice President for Inclusive Excellence David Fryson, an experienced higher education leader of equity and inclusion, joined Quinnipiac in January to take on the task of reimaging the office, which succeeds the former Department of Cultural and Global Engagement (DCGE).

“As the interim vice president, I was brought on by President Judy Olian to not just bolster the office, but to actually put it on a higher footing than it was before. My first priority was to make sure not only that we filled all the available slots in the office, but to also add a new position that the office didn’t have before,” said Fryson.

This new role, assistant director for student success and leadership, was created to help first-generation and diverse students succeed and grow in their Quinnipiac journey.

Fryson’s team building began quickly, and in March, he announced Claude Mayo as the office’s inaugural Director of Inclusive Excellence. Formerly Director of Academic Integrity, Mayo also served as DCGE interim director of multicultural education and training. In addition to assisting Fryson in providing strategic direction around equity and inclusion for the university, Mayo also oversees daily Inclusive Excellence activities and programming. He also supervises recent hires Briona Grant, Assistant Director of Inclusive Excellence; and Cheri Brooks, Assistant Director for Student Success and Leadership.

Additionally, the Office of Inclusive Excellence administrative team includes Title IX Coordinator Patricio Jimenez, who came on board in March, and also now has a fulltime Title IX Investigator, Susan Petties. It also includes Sarah Catenza, who supports the office as an administrative assistant.

“We now have a fully staffed, fully functioning office and level of positivity in terms of who we are as an entity of Quinnipiac: a place of inclusive excellence and a place of belonging,” said Fryson.

The positivity extends to the reimagined spaces of the Office of Inclusive Excellence on the Mount Carmel Campus, where a welcoming lounge has been created especially for students.

“We redeveloped our physical space here and made a new, student-friendly lounge space,” Mayo said. “We want that to be another space where students can feel comfortable, where they can congregate and meet with us, and more importantly, with each other.”

Ideally the Office of Inclusive Excellence will become a magnet for attracting a diverse and energized campus community, said Mayo. He’s also excited for the possibilities of the office team interacting with many students who are involved in Quinnipiac’s multicultural student groups.

“All 18 of the multicultural organizations are supported out of our office here. Our work is informed by what’s going on with the student voice, and so from this office, specifically, we will hear the chorus of their voices together,” said Mayo. “While our assistant director for inclusive excellence is really going to spearhead a lot of our multicultural work, I think it’s going to bring all of us in the office more into the conversation. We’ll hear what they’re planning; and we’ll be here to offer guidance, support, and help.”

The Office of Inclusive Excellence is also working to make sure more students are aware of the benefits of programs that are available to help them thrive as members of the campus community. Plans are underway to increase outreach to more underrepresented groups, such as the LBGTQ community, said Fryson.

“We’re expanding our reach in terms of the whole idea of making sure that all of our students have opportunities to succeed, for anyone that needs the help of this office,” said Fryson.

The office will also be increasing its efforts to act as a mechanism to help more employee affinity groups coalesce and take root on campus.

“Rather than just creating things, we are supporting those within the particular groups to create the groups with our assistance and our backing, so those groups are functional, and it rises up from the community,” said Fryson.

Mayo said the office will continue to support the Quinnipiac community with proven programs that are evolving in meaningful ways, such as the First-Year Immersion program and the Multicultural Reception and Jam Session during Bobcat Weekend.

“In our new formation, with all of our new specialists and experts, we can use what we’ve built previously as a foundation and understanding in principle, but we’re not necessarily tied to the mechanics of them. We’re able to redesign and redo,” said Mayo.

Fryson credits Olian and the management team of the university for supporting the expansion and impact of the reimagined Office of Inclusive Excellence.

“I think under this university’s leadership and the framework of our strategic plan, we are providing an opportunity for the office to be an integral part of the everyday experience at Quinnipiac; and not just for students, because we are campus wide,” said Fryson. “We believe this office will be the hub that will give everyone a sense of connection and belonging.”

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