After ending his brief stint at the University of Iowa following his seven-week tenure as the associate vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, TaJuan Wilson has landed a similar position at Georgia Southern University.
Wilson will be Georgia Southern’s first associate vice president for Inclusive Excellence, Georgia Southern beginning March 1, the institution announced Wednesday. He worked at the UI through Jan. 31 as a special assistant to the vice president for External Relations following his August 2019 resignation leading the UI’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion only seven weeks after he began.
Wilson signed a separation agreement Aug. 9 permitting him to “telecommute” to work at the UI, allowing him to job search during work hours. The agreement stated that Wilson “must be available for consultation, if needed.” During that time, Wilson was allowed to keep his annual salary of $240,000.
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At GSU, Wilson will serve on the senior leadership team directly under the university’s Chief Diversity Officer Damon Williams. GSU adopted a plan under Williams in order to improve the campus culture for all students, faculty, and staff, according to a release from Georgia Southern.
Wilson has served as the executive director of multicultural programs at Missouri State University and, before coming to the UI, as an associate professor and executive director of student programs and diversity at the Medical University of South Carolina. Wilson is also a trained Title IX investigator and coordinator.
Since resigning from his UI role, Wilson has not spoken publicly about his departure, only sharing remarks in an Aug. 15 UI statement.
“Coming to Iowa was a leap of faith for me personally and professionally, I have great respect for the university and the work being done in diversity, equity, and inclusion and believe Iowa has the potential to be on the right path,” Wilson said the statement. “This opportunity will be wonderful for the right person, but it is not the right fit for me at this time.”
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The Daily Iowan previously reported the initial search that led to Wilson’s hire cost $81,999 for search expenses and an additional $21,593.21 to reimburse travel and advertising expenses.
In the meantime, UI Provost Montserrat Fuentes — who arrived on campus the same day as Wilson — is overseeing the three unit leaders of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Fuentes told the DI Jan. 21 that the university intends to begin the search for a new associate vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in April using firm Isaacson, Miller. The UI will hold forums across campus to provide opportunities for feedback.
UI President Bruce Harreld said in a Sept. 23 DI interview that the priority at that time was not on filling the role Wilson left vacant, but on advancing the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan — particularly supporting underrepresented faculty. Keeping the division housed under the provost for the time allowed the UI to commit to building momentum on those goals.
He said he “think[s] eventually” the UI would search for a replacement, but did not identify a search timeline.
“We will fill that position,” he said. “We need to get energy not on getting a leader, on what we said we were going to do [regarding the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan]… So let’s get that momentum in place then we’ll find an appropriate leader.”