Valerie Hampton, Binghamton University’s first chief diversity officer and the director of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), will retire at the end of this month, according to a B-Line news addition sent Monday.
Nicole Sirju-Johnson, DEI associate chief diversity officer and the director of the Multicultural Resource Center, will be the interim chief diversity officer and interim director of the DEI until the University can find a permanent candidate, according to the news addition. The search for a permanent director will begin in fall 2018.
Jose Maldonado, ‘12, diversity fellow for the DEI, wrote in an email that Hampton’s contributions have helped the University move forward.
“Valerie has been such an incredible leader, supervisor and mentor since my arrival as the Diversity Fellow for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” Maldonado wrote. “Her dedication to the mission of Binghamton University has given DEI a true platform on campus so that we can work with various faculty, students and staff members on the issues of diversity, and seek to develop our vision of unity, acceptance, and pride amongst all Bearcats.”
Prior to her current position, Hampton served as the director of the Affirmative Action Office at BU for 12 years before the office was replaced by the DEI in 2013. As chief diversity officer, she worked on initiatives including the Campus Climate Survey, sent out by the DEI in spring 2014 to garner student opinion about race and diversity on campus.
Hampton, 61, has been one the main points of contact between students and the administration, and has occasionally come under criticism from students for not moving quickly enough to address their concerns. In spring 2017, members of BU’s X-Fact’r Step Team experienced racial harassment on the West Side of the city of Binghamton. Following the incident, members took issue with the DEI’s response, claiming no one from the office had reached out to X-Fact’r about the incident or called the Binghamton Police Department to further investigate.
Hampton has attended and spoken at multiple town hall forums organized by students including one organized this past fall semester by Joshua Gonzalez, the Student Association’s vice president for multicultural affairs and a senior majoring in geography, after racist depictions of black people were found in a study lounge in Endicott Hall of Newing College.
University President Harvey Stenger said that Hampton has excelled in her position and in helping the campus diversify.
“Valerie has done an outstanding job as our campus’s first CDO [chief diversity officer], reinforcing the campus’s commitment to diversity, and working with us to find ways to better recruit and retain minority faculty, staff, and students,” Stenger wrote in an email.
Maldonado wrote that Hampton will be missed by her colleagues but that her impact on the University will still be present moving forward.
“Her voice and support will always be a true testament to the growth of the school, as well as the resources we have to provide within our communities,” Maldonado wrote. “She will be a mentor to me and my colleagues as we continue to grow her vision here at Binghamton University.”
Hampton declined Pipe Dream’s request for an interview. Sirju-Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.