Professor named Presidential Fellow to focus on inclusiveness, equity

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Professor James D. Anderson has been chosen as a new Presidential Fellow to focus on issues of inclusiveness and equity at the University. Anderson has worked as a professor in Education.

President Timothy Killeen announced the appointment Monday morning via Massmail. Anderson will serve in the position for the next 12 months.

As the Presidential Fellow, Anderson will serve as a liaison between the Office of the President and all three University campuses. He will assist in the creation and development of new initiatives aimed at eliminating racial inequity and discrimination.

Thomas Hardy, executive director of University relations, said that Anderson was selected by President Killeen himself.

His appointment comes in the wake of an Illini White Student Union Facebook page formed online in response to a Black Solidarity rally held on Nov. 18. The Central Black Student Union and the Black Students for Revolution have planned several solidarity events since the creation of the Facebook page and the University administration’s subsequent responses condemning the page.

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Hardy said that the recent racial controversies that have occurred on college campuses across the country were “definitely a factor” when it came to appointing Anderson to this new position.

“These issues are important to the president and University,” Hardy said. “Issues raised about inclusion and equity on college campuses, so President Killeen felt it was an appropriate decision.”

Members of the Black Students for Revolution were critical of the University’s response to the formation of the page as well as other issues they felt perpetuated the subjugation of black people on campus.

The initiative aims to “tap into the deep talent pool of U of I faculty and provide an opportunity for individual faculty members to work part-time for one year on critical strategic initiatives and projects,” according to Killeen’s Massmail.

Anderson was also recently appointed as an advisor to the athletic board. In the position Anderson will provide both academic and non-academic advice to Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson and the Athletic Board.

The position is only part-time, as Anderson will still assume his responsibilities as a professor in the College of Education. 

Christophe Pierre, vice president for Academic Affairs, will be consulting with Anderson in his new role, according to the Massmail.