IOWA CITY – When asked why he wants to leave the University of Iowa after just one year, recently reassigned Montse Fuentes, now "special assistant to the president" after leaving the position of president of UI, he told the Kent State University community "I am looking for the opportunity to fully align myself with my core values: my commitment to diversity, fairness and inclusion. ”
" I'm very excited about the prospect of joining Kent State, where I feel like there is complete alignment with those values, "Fuentes said during an October 20 public presentation to the Kent community. State as part of her search for a new Senior Vice President and Chancellor.
Fuentes, who began as UI Chancellor in June 2019 and in July 2020 signed an agreement reassigning her to the pap Special Assistant to the President, she became known earlier this month as one of three finalists for the Kent State job.
When asked during her candidate's introduction why she wants to do the Lateral movement to move from Iowa to the Northeast Ohio institution, Fuentes said she likes that Kent State “is an institution that puts students first.”
"I'm very excited that you are using your values, your commitment to diversity, kindness, respect, to guide the institution, "he said, praising the campus for creating a strategy and following it.
" I think it is fundamental in everything we do to understand what are the priorities and strategic vision, because that would guide the financial allocation, that would guide our fundraising, that would guide how we develop programs, "he said.
Fuentes has declined to answer The Gaze's questions tte about his settlement with UI, allowing him to continue to earn his provost-level pay of $ 439,000 through June 30, 2021 while concentrating on UI's strategic planning.
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But Fuentes did speak with a Kent State student reporter, who shared audio with The Gazette after asking the former UI president, among other things, why she was reassigned to Iowa.
Emphasizing the importance of operating in "complete alignment" with her values, Fuentes said that she voluntarily decided to "put myself in a position where I could speak in alignment with my values and direction that institution goes. ”
" That's where I am now and that really goes back to why I'm excited about Kent State, "Fuentes told the student reporter. “I think Iowa is a wonderful community with amazing faculty, staff, and students. It's more of a personality fit. A personal address. I want to be able to put values into action and words into action and that's what I'm looking for. "
When asked how his ideology aligns with Kent State, Fuentes said he likes the philosophy of" los students first ”, its research-academic integration and the“ alignment of the values of that institution with my own commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion ".
"And I'm also clearly excited about the recognition the institution is receiving for that commitment to those values: being the best employer for diversity from your peers, a great place to work for The Chronicle of Higher Education," she said. . “Certainly that authentic commitment to guarantee that the institution provides a very welcoming and inclusive university community.”
Fuentes has told The Gazette that he considers himself a minority, since he is from Spain, he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Valladolid in the European nation before obtaining a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1998.
He began his tenure at UI on the same day that then-Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, TaJuan Wilson, began his brief stint on campus. Wilson, who was hired after a long-term search that required two interns, resigned after only six weeks on the job.
As Fuentes would do almost a year later, Wilson signed a deal by taking a special assignment in the UI President's Office, where he continued to earn his six-figure salary while being allowed to seek other off-campus jobs.
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Leaving for the University of South Georgia earlier this year, Wilson prepared for UI a presentation on what other campuses are doing around issues diversity, equity and inclusion. In that presentation, Wilson raised questions about UI's diversity efforts, including: "Are we honest about where we are and are we operating with integrity and transparency?"
He also asked if there is “organizational responsibility” and if diversity is reflected among senior leaders.
For a period after Wilson's departure, Fuentes was informed by all campus diversity units, rather than an interim, when the university began another search for Wilson's replacement. Following Fuentes' reassignment in July, administrators appointed Liz Tovar as Acting Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
And then two weeks ago, officials ended UI's search for a new head of diversity, announcing that several candidates either dropped out or said they would do so after UI President Bruce Harreld announced his retirement. Officials have said Tovar will persist in the interim role, and have not said whether the campus has plans to relaunch a search.
Meanwhile, the campus during the summer was the center of the Black Lives Matter protests, with hundreds of protesters in Pentacrest and outside the UI president's office. And student, faculty, and staff diversity leaders on campus criticized the administration for its response to the protests.
"Faculty, staff and especially students perceive that you and many other college leaders are oblivious to the intense fear, struggle and trauma that pervades the University of Iowa community every day," according to an open letter from seven UI Diversity councils, reporting that trust in the university's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion "has been decimated."
Fuentes, in discussing his priorities with the Kent State community, repeatedly mentioned diversity, but also noted that moving to Kent State would be like "coming home".
"This is our home," he said. “That's where my husband is from. So we have been looking for an opportunity for our three children to come home. So it's really, in a way, like coming home. "
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Kent State Officials they did not immediately provide a timeline for the selection of a new rector at that campus.
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