Renee Madison, director of human resources for the City of Indianapolis and Marion County, Ind., has been named vice president for equity and inclusion at Colgate University. The veteran administrator, with experience promoting inclusion and equity in higher education and government, will report to the president and serve as a member of the president’s cabinet. She will take up her new duties at Colgate on Oct. 4.
A search committee, comprising both faculty and staff members, reviewed a strong pool of applicants, identified during a yearlong, nationwide search. The interview process included extensive meetings with students, campus partners, and members of the Board of Trustees.
“I thank the members of the search committee for their dedication to this process,” President Brian W. Casey says. “They have acted on Colgate’s commitment to expand equity and inclusion — to advance the academic mission of our University and address the challenges facing our country. Renee’s leadership, in coordination with efforts adopted by the Board of Trustees, through faculty governance, and across administrative divisions, will advance The Third-Century Plan and our DEI Plan while bringing us closer together as a community.”
Before joining the mayor’s cabinet in Indianapolis, Madison was chief human resources officer, senior advisor to the president for diversity and compliance, and Title IX coordinator at DePauw University. She also served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in the Domestic Violence Division of the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and an associate director of enforcement for the NCAA. She holds a BA in sociology from DePauw and earned her JD at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
“As co-chairs of the search committee, we believe that Renee has the acumen to bring this campus together around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” say Laura Jack, vice president for communications and acting chief diversity officer (CDO), and Spencer Kelly, Charles A. Dana Professor of psychological and brain sciences. “She has the experience that Colgate needs to identify gaps in access, equity, and support across the institution and to work collaboratively with University leaders to address them — to make the University’s intellectual environment, community, and student experiences richer, more robust, and more inclusive.”
The role of the vice president for equity and inclusion is dynamic, responding to the challenges and needs of an ambitious institution during a period of significant advancement. Madison will serve as a core member of the senior leadership team, providing oversight and strategic vision for policies and initiatives that promote an inclusive and equitable learning and working environment for students as well as faculty and staff members.
With a staff of four, she will oversee the Office of Equity and Diversity, which currently guides hiring practices, Title IX cases, ADA concerns, affirmative action/equal opportunity, and the University’s nondiscrimination and anti-harassment processes. She will ensure that an inclusive vision is integrated into overall institutional planning, bringing visibility and organizational focus to campuswide DEI efforts that have been captured in the Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the University’s Third-Century Plan.
Madison will not do this work alone. She will be supported by structures already put in place by the Office of Equity and Diversity and through Jack’s work as acting CDO. She will find other campuswide initiatives, such as anti-bias training and enhanced hiring practices, implemented and facilitated by Title IX Coordinator and Equity and Diversity Officer Tamala Flack, formerly executive director for equity, inclusion, and EEO/AA, and Maura Tumulty, professor of philosophy and outgoing associate provost for equity and diversity.
“Renee’s leadership will bring greater cohesion to our collective action,” says Tumulty. “Drawing on her experience, we will address legal obligations and moral imperatives, confront racism, and ensure equity of experience and opportunity on campus.”
This October, from a new suite of offices in Lathrop Hall designated for DEI efforts, Madison will begin the work of updating the DEI Plan, drawing on input from campus partners. She will continue implementation of the plan in concert with all campus divisions. Newly formed DEI Advisory and DEI Coordination groups have been meeting for the past year, anticipating the arrival of the new administrator, and members will be instrumental in supporting her through their roles as practitioners and divisional leaders.
“They have already begun that hard work of getting comfortable with change, with reimagining our community,” says Jack, who helped facilitate that work as acting CDO.
The hiring of a vice president for equity and inclusion is the latest step to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at Colgate — efforts supported by the Board of Trustees, which recently created a new DEI committee to coordinate its work in this area. The board has also amended its bylaws, with the permission of New York State, to expand its numbers and expedite an increase in the diversity of its membership. Meanwhile, the Alumni Council has also created a DEI committee to facilitate its efforts.
“The intentionality and determination demonstrated by the board, the administration, faculty and staff members, students, and alumni underscore Colgate’s commitment to inclusivity,” Madison says. “I share that commitment — and believe that these efforts are vital to the University’s academic mission and its plans for future success. I look forward to taking on this important role at this distinctive institution, at this transformative time.”