Dickinson Hires First Chief Diversity Officer

Tony D. Boston became Dickinson’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officer on Oct. 24 after President John E. Jones announced the hire in early September. Boston was hired to support  the college’s Inclusivity Strategic Plan and help with inclusivity and diversity on campus. 

Boston has previously worked at Pomona College as an Associate Dean of the College, and at Reed College, where he served as Interim Dean for Institutional Diversity & Chief Diversity Officer. 

Boston said he was drawn to this type of work because “I carry with me several marginalized identities that inform my perspective and that served as the seed from which my empathy has grown—being a person of color, first generation, low-income, from underserved schools and communities. I also acknowledge the privilege and access that I now have. So, a draw for me is having the capacity to leverage this acquired privilege and access to best advocate for others.”

When asked what he believes the role of a diversity officer to be, he said “As the chief diversity officers [sic]— a member of the senior staff, reporting directly to the president — my role is that of a senior advisor and strategist in matters relating to access, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.” He went on to say that an important part of being a Chief Diversity Officer is the link between the “lived experiences of Dickinsonians — students, faculty, staff, alumni” and “our stated values as a college.”

Boston said “I saw a college that was willing to recognize its connections [to] dark moments in America’s past and that had the humility, empathy, and academic integrity to critically explore these connections, learn from them, and work to improve as an institution.” He went on to say “Moreover, seeing the work being done across the campus and specifically within OEI — ADS & SOAR, Women’s and Gender Resource Center, LGBTQ Services, Spirituality and Social Justice, Popel Shaw Center, Asbell Center for Jewish Life — gave me assurance that I was not on an island leading this work, but a part of a collective.”

When asked what he feels are the most pressing issues relating to diversity on campus, he responded by listing three phases in his approach to transitioning to a new job and campus: Listening, Learning, and Leading. “Right now, I am in that listening phase which includes engaging with the Dickinson community in both one-on-one and small group settings,” he said. He emphasized that the “combination of quantitative and qualitative data and personal narrative” represents the learning phase of his familiarization with the Dickinson community. He went on to say that driving change represents the leading phase. 

Boston said, “I’m a certified diversity professional, with training in change management and educational leadership, with experience in assessment, strategic planning, program development, and faculty governance. I hope to draw upon each of these to best serve the Dickinson community.”

His final statement to the students and staff of Dickinson College was “I’d like to emphasize that organizational change isn’t a singular effort. It will take time, sustained partnerships and authentic collaborations across all parts of the college. I invite each of you to join in the work to move Dickinson forward.”