Campus Life is scrambling to replace senior administrators in the Office for Racial and Cultural Engagement (RACE) after Director Jade Turner and Associate Director Tiffany Del Valle quit their positions.
Turner, who came to Emory in January from the University of California, Irvine, after an extensive search process, left in June for “personal and family reasons,” she wrote in a Sept. 29 email to the Wheel. Turner was selected as the first director of RACE, which was established in Fall 2017 to engage students in issues of race, culture and social justice, according to a December 2017 Campus Life press release.
“[My departure] might have seemed abrupt, but that is simply because folks weren’t aware of everything I had going on and was dealing with at the time,” Turner wrote. “I don’t regret moving to Atlanta and trying something new that was definitely out of my comfort zone, but unfortunately it just didn’t work out.”
After Turner left, Campus Life decided to wait before conducting the search process for a new director, according to Assistant Vice President for Community Suzanne Onorato.
“There won’t be as many candidates at this time of year,” Onorato said. Finding qualified candidates is difficult outside of spring, which is when higher education employees typically search and travel for new jobs, according to Onorato.
Onorato said Campus Life declined to appoint Del Valle as interim RACE director in wake of Turner’s departure.
“[Del Valle] had only been in her role as associate director for a year,” Onorato said. “From an HR perspective, she didn’t quite have the experience that we’re looking for in a director role.”
To compensate for Turner’s departure, Campus Life hired Jason Wallace, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia, to work in the RACE office for 20 hours a week. Wallace did not respond to request for comment. Campus Life also increased the pay of Del Valle and RACE Program Coordinator Malcolm Robinson to compensate them for their increased workloads, Onorato said. Director of the Center for Women Chanel Craft Tanner supervised Del Valle and is representing the RACE office in Campus Life meetings, according to Onorato.
In September, Del Valle accepted a position as the director of diversity programs at Agnes Scott College (Ga.)’s Center for Global Diversity and Inclusion.
After Del Valle’s departure, Campus Life initiated plans to find a new director with the search process beginning by around mid-October, Onorato said.
“It’s just going to mean that we’re going to have to really use our networks and connect with colleagues across different institutions to see who might be interested, particularly … at smaller schools.”
Onorato said she hopes to conduct telephone interviews with candidates by November and bring candidates to campus by December.
Some RACE programs were developed under Turner’s leadership in the Spring, including Art, Atlanta, Activism, a student expo which “explores the interplay between art and racial justice” through the work of Emory and Atlanta-based artists and activists, according to the RACE website.
The Racial Justice Microgrants program, which is no longer featured on RACE’s website, was also created in the spring for students to request money to initiate programming, projects or initiatives related to race and social justice, according to Onorato. Another program, Breaking Bread, brought about 10 to 12 students together for dinner to discuss race and ethnicity. It was hosted at least three times, according to RACE’s Facebook page.
Interim Vice President of Campus Life Paul Marthers declined a request for an interview, directing the Wheel to Onorato.