Carnegie Mellon University
January 14, 2021

Announcing New Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Chief Diversity Officer

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon Community:

After a comprehensive national search, I am delighted to announce that Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, a renowned leader in the advancement of diversity, equity, inclusion and well-being in the workplace and in the classroom, has been selected as the inaugural Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Chief Diversity Officer for Carnegie Mellon. She will also hold a faculty appointment as Distinguished Service Professor in Heinz College. Dr. Heading-Grant will begin her new role on April 1.

Dr. Heading-Grant currently serves as the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Vermont (UVM), where she has established programs and policies fundamental to the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion, including tools to enhance and innovate employee performance and professional development opportunities. She also serves as Clinical Associate Professor in the College of Education and Social Services. Throughout her 30-year career at UVM, Dr. Heading-Grant has served in a broad range of academic and administrative roles, including Executive Director, Associate Dean, Associate Provost, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President.

With her wealth of professional experience and volunteer involvement with nonprofit organizations and civil rights advisory committees, I am confident Dr. Heading-Grant will provide the strong leadership necessary in this profoundly critical role that is charged with enacting real and lasting changes in how CMU addresses racism, classism, sexism and the language of othering across our campus community. She will work in close concert with the Vice Provost for Faculty, Human Resources, Staff Council, Faculty Senate, student government, and the schools and colleges.

As the university’s chief diversity officer, Dr. Heading-Grant will be instrumental in long-range DEI planning and implementation. This includes coordinating with each of the academic and administrative units in overseeing their five-year strategic DEI plans and college-based commitments. She also will oversee the Office of Title IX Initiatives and jointly oversee the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion with the Division of Student Affairs.

This appointment comes after consideration of an incredibly strong pool of candidates. The broad span of candidates included sitting and former DEI leaders, interdisciplinary academic leaders and non-traditional leaders from public sectors. I am grateful to the search committee and their co-chairs, Professor Eric Anderson, Professor Linda Babcock and Associate Provost Becky Culyba, for their tremendous work in finding excellent candidates.

Carnegie Mellon first committed in 2019 to establish a new vice provost position to lead a university-wide office dedicated to providing accountability, leadership and resources for DEI initiatives. In July 2020, CMU President Farnam Jahanian furthered this commitment as part of numerous actions in an official pledge to Confront Racism and Promote Equity and Inclusion, to the university community, expansion of knowledge and expertise at CMU and engagement and economic empowerment for the broader community.

The search strategy reflected these desired priorities. To further inform the search, the search advisory committee and the search consultants from Spelman Johnson diligently conducted many interviews to gather input from the entire CMU community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and members of the larger community.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to bring final candidates to campus for in-person visits; however, each met virtually with a wide variety of stakeholders across campus, including DEI leads and academic and administrative leaders. The finalists also met with a mixture of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students from all seven colleges and schools. Thank you to everyone who participated in those interview sessions.

I am deeply grateful to Dr. Shawn Blanton for his leadership and service as the interim vice provost for DEI during the search process. Dr. Blanton will return full time to the faculty of the College of Engineering as the Trustee Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering this coming summer.

You can learn more about our new Vice Provost for DEI and Chief Diversity Officer by reading the announcement that will be posted on the Carnegie Mellon website later today.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Heading-Grant on her new position and welcoming her to the CMU community!


Jim Garrett
Thomas Lord Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering