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UW-Eau Claire announces new leadership in EDI

| Denise Olson

Two interim leadership positions have been filled in the newly separated division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Chancellor James Schmidt says he made these critical appointments with the help of an advisory review team composed of faculty, staff and students, including members of shared governance and the EDI division.

“Our priority for this interim period of 18 months is to reaffirm our commitment to eliminating the opportunity gap for our students of color and other underrepresented groups,” Schmidt says. “Secondly, it is essential that all of us are working to provide our students with the level of cultural competence that they must have to be successful in their future communities and careers.”

Teresa O’Halloran, campus affirmative action officer and Title IX administrator, has been named interim assistant chancellor for EDI and Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, professor of history, will serve as interim executive director for EDI engagement. Schmidt points out that both women bring to these roles a long history of leadership and relationship building across campus.

“Teresa is an experienced leader who previously served as interim vice chancellor of the EDISA division,” Schmidt says. “With strong relationships across campus, she is capable of leading difficult conversations.”

O’Halloran will serve in the assistant chancellor position through the summer of 2024, overseeing the EDI division and reporting to the chancellor. In this role, she will lead EDI conversations and form a new EDI Advisory Council that will be “broadly representative” of campus constituents and provide direct counsel to the division. O’Halloran will serve on the chancellor’s executive team.

“I appreciate the chancellor’s and the advisory committee’s confidence in me,” O’Halloran says. “I look forward to working with colleagues across our Eau Claire, Rice Lake and Marshfield campuses to fine-tune our policies and practices in order to more effectively meet our immediate needs and our long-term goals in equity, diversity and inclusion.” 

O’Halloran first joined UW-Eau Claire in 2006; she is a graduate of UW-Madison in political science and international relations and earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Ducksworth-Lawton has been a campus and community leader in EDI efforts for almost 30 years, work that has earned her campus, local, state and UW System recognition, earning in 2021 both the UW-Eau Claire Martin Luther King Social Justice Leadership Award and the UW System’s Board of Regents Diversity Award.

“The advisory team recognized Selika’s experience working with faculty and students and the value of her many community relationships,” Schmidt says. 

In this new role, Ducksworth-Lawton will support faculty engagement in meeting campus EDI goals, working in close coordination with the provost to remain connected to the academic division of the university. Additionally, she will supervise the Center for EDI Training, Development and Education, and the Center for Racial and Restorative Justice, providing an important liaison to Academic Affairs for those units. This executive director position reports to O’Halloran and also will join the chancellor’s executive team, which meets monthly.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to work on these issues with all of our amazing students, faculty and staff,” Ducksworth-Lawton says. “I’m hopeful that we will be able to bridge the gaps while creating a little more unity and understanding across campus.”

While O’Halloran already has assumed the duties of her new position, Ducksworth-Lawton will step into her interim role after the end of her fall semester classroom teaching responsibilities.