Press "Enter" to skip to content

New VP for DEI has hopes for progress at Bradley

Warren Anderson will be officially arriving to Bradley spring 2022. Photo by Warren Anderson.

Bradley announced Warren Anderson as the university’s first Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Chief Diversity Officer on Nov. 22.

His latest position was as the Senior Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the University of Wisconsin System and has worked with multiple universities to ensure progress and success for minority students.

Anderson has been involved in higher education for more than 20 years and was a chief diversity officer at multiple institutions. Anderson has made similar efforts at K-12 schools along with secondary education, making him feel fit for Bradley’s newly created position.

“The critical importance of this work right now given the issues of social justice nationally makes this work, and the work that I’ve been fortunate enough to do for a number of years, really important,” Anderson said.

With his years of experience, Anderson noted that diversity efforts have always been apparent at other institutions, but the push for more to be done is building.

There’s been a shift to students taking charge and emphasizing DEI topics on their campus. He sees students use social media as a tool to share their experiences or concerns about the state of their institution, communities and the nation.

“I think right now the difference is the level of urgency in which we need to educate people about aspects of equity, diversity and inclusion, and how we need to address all three simultaneously,” Anderson said. “That’s why I think it’s different now than it was 20 years ago.”

Anderson came to campus earlier this semester along with other candidates when interviewed and spoke with students about the culture and their concerns at the institution.

Nathan Thomas, Vice President for Student Affairs, was head of the search committee for the position. Throughout the semester, the committee asked students for their input on what qualities they wanted to see in the Vice President for DEI and changes on campus.

“What stood out for Dr. Anderson was the progression of his work, the successes throughout his career, and his engagement throughout the entire campus (students, faculty, staff),” Thomas said in his email interview. “His experience as a Chief Diversity Officer and in launching a DEI office shine in his experience and allow him to first-hand understand what is ahead for Bradley.”

His position in the Wisconsin system separated him from creating deeper connections with an individual campus, as he mostly oversaw diversity issues and subjects after they had occurred. He said he’s looking forward to being active in policy changes and the community at Bradley.

Anderson said that understanding DEI isn’t just an issue for institutions, but it’s supposed to be an understanding of the topics and discussions that students take with them as they enter their careers.

“I’m a firm believer that everyone who works at an institution — either you mow the lawn or in the classroom or at an executive level — that our goal is the same; to make sure that every person that comes to Bradley is changed for the better,” Anderson said.

The enthusiasm that he’s seen so far makes him believe that there’s much to come. Anderson credits that changes are already being made for DEI and that his position will help get those initiatives recognized and gain more ground at a faster rate.

In terms of making progress and a cultural change, it should look like everyone is holding Bradley accountable while giving their support.

“This is the most important work that we have to do because I think it supports every aspect of the institution,” Anderson said. “I really think this is a huge opportunity for Bradley. In all my time that I’ve spent at Bradley, and my time since, there’s been a wealth of desire to actually have this work happen.”

The position is to develop and guide strategies, assess the culture and climate of Bradley and be an ambassador of DEI for the university.

“In his first few months, no doubt, he will be listening, studying, learning, establishing his agenda, and evaluating the next steps in the trajectory of our work,” Thomas said.

Anderson has even confirmed himself that he’s talking with faculty on his plans for next semester. Besides getting the groundwork underway, Anderson is house hunting and even going to the Bradley basketball game this weekend.

“I cannot wait to get to Bradley and just get into the work,” Anderson said. “I’m so excited about what’s happening and I’m so excited about the opportunities ahead.”

Copyright © 2022, The Scout, Bradley University. All rights reserved.
The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.