Illinois State University seeks nominations and applications for the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. The University is seeking a dynamic and experienced leader to provide innovative and strategic leadership for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives across Illinois State University. As one of its core values, Illinois State strives to create and maintain an atmosphere that nurtures cultural understanding, mutual respect, and social justice.

Position Responsibilities

  • Developing the Office of Equity and Inclusion to include planning, leading, and implementing institutional change in collaboration with university and community partners
  • Promoting cultural competence across all constituencies
  • Collaborating with senior leaders to develop systems of accountability for reaching diversity goals and objectives
  • Creating reporting mechanisms to ensure that unit diversity plans and initiatives are aligned with the University’s overarching diversity goals, objectives, and strategies
  • Recommending criteria and/or decisions to guide the University’s allocation of resources and strategic investments in support of institutional and unit diversity plans and initiatives
  • Creating and expanding opportunities to engage marginalized and underserved populations
  • Partnering with various units to develop comprehensive strategies for recruiting and retaining diverse students, faculty, and staff
  • Conducting campus climate studies, demographic studies, and policy analyses
  • Affirming and celebrating the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence
  • Creating and expanding opportunities to encourage dialogue with campus and community stakeholders

Required Qualifications

  1. Master’s degree in relevant field
  2. Demonstrated evidence of successfully leading diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in a higher education context or other large, complex organization
  3. Effective written, interpersonal, and collaborative communication skills
  4. Demonstrated experience creating and maintaining strategic relationships with diverse groups of stakeholders including but not limited to community leaders, alumni, corporate donors, benefactors, industry, and local, state, regional and national organizations focused on diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence
  5. Demonstrated success in identifying and implementing best practices of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging and an excellent command of modern diversity and inclusion standards, concepts, best practices 

Preferred Qualifications

  1. Doctoral degree
  2. Ten or more years of progressive leadership experience advancing diversity, equity, inclusion,
    belonging, and community building in public higher education
  3. Demonstrated ability to collaborate with underrepresented populations, bridge differences through dialogue, and promote cultural competence across all constituencies
  4. Strong command of multifaceted aspects relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion on a college or university campus
  5. Experience developing, leading, and evaluating comprehensive education or training
    programs, as to support and further develop pre-existing efforts across campus
  6. Experience with budget and personnel management, strategic planning, and program
  7. Demonstrated success in working collaboratively to develop and implement recruitment and
    retention strategies focused on building a diverse workforce
  8. Ability to analyze and document institutional progress for the following programs: Title IX, ADA, and Affirmative Action, in partnership with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access (OEOA)
  9. Proven analytical skills and ability to provide oversight for assessments related to campus climate, diversity, inclusion, and belonging
  10. Demonstrated success in partnering with faculty in curriculum development efforts that advance diversity, inclusion, belonging, and social justice

About Illinois State University

On February 18, 1857, Governor William Bissell of Illinois signed a bill creating a normal school and establishing the Board of Education of the State of Illinois as its governing body. The bill stipulated that the permanent location would be the place that offered the most favorable inducements. Jesse W. Fell took up the campaign for Bloomington and obtained financial backing totaling $141,000. Abraham Lincoln, acting as attorney for the Board, drew up the bond guaranteeing the Bloomington citizens would fulfill their financial pledges. Illinois State University was consequently founded as the first public institution of higher education in the state.

Established as a teacher education institution, Illinois State has developed into a multipurpose university with degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Six colleges offer approximately 174 undergraduate majors, 97 master’s programs, 17 doctoral degrees, and 40 certificate options. In addition, the university has received approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education for the creation of a new College of Engineering that will enroll its first cohort of students in Fall 2025. One of 12 public universities in Illinois, the alumni base has now grown to more than 220,000. All initiatives are guided by Educate • Connect • Elevate: Illinois State—The Strategic Plan for Illinois’ First Public University 2018-2023. The document details the University’s seven core values: Learning and Scholarship, Diversity and Inclusion, Respect, Collaboration, Individualized Attention, Civic Engagement, and Integrity. They combine to make Illinois State an institution with large-school opportunities and a small-school feel. Personalized attention is the focal point at the University, which lives its motto of “Gladly we learn and teach.”

Enrollment for fall 2022 is 20,683 students. Illinois State’s students appreciate the average 19:1 student-faculty ratio. Professors teach in the classroom, mentor, and partner with both undergraduates and graduates in research endeavors. Within the faculty, 98 percent hold a terminal degree in their field. Additional examples of excellence include Illinois State placing 53rd on the 2022-2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Value Schools rankings. Students return to campus and complete their degrees, as shown by the fact the University’s retention rate is among the highest in the nation at nearly 80 percent. Graduation rates are near 70 percent. These retention and graduation rates place ISU in the top 10 percent of all public universities nationwide. Illinois State is also praised for providing an affordable education, with Washington Monthly honoring the University as one of the Best Bang for the Buck Colleges in the Midwest. There are many other reasons that reveal Illinois State’s competitive advantage as a premier undergraduate institution—from record-breaking fundraising to student civic engagement and scholarly breakthroughs. Each explains the reason Illinois State University is “Redbird Proud.”

Illinois State affirms and encourages community belonging and a respect for differences. The University fosters an inclusive environment characterized by cultural understanding and engagement, ethical behavior, and a commitment to social justice. The University supports a diverse faculty and staff who mentor a diverse student population. The institution endeavors to provide opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to participate productively in a global society and be civically engaged.

Campus diversity at Illinois State increasingly reflects the nation’s changing demographics. In the 2022- 2023 academic year, 37 percent of the freshman class comes from traditionally underrepresented groups. Over the past five years, there has been a 14 percent increase in African American students and a 9 percent increase in Latinx students. Students are mentored by a faculty that includes numerous teacher-scholars recognized at national and international levels, all dedicated to superior teaching.

Metrics of Excellence

  • First-choice Institution: Illinois State has welcomed another large and high-achieving freshman class. We enroll more than 20,600 students, while maintaining academic quality and small class size.
  • Diverse Campus: Illinois State provides accessible opportunities and increasingly reflects the nation's changing demographics. In 2022, we enrolled our most diverse freshman class in school history with 37 percent of these students and nearly 30 percent of the total student population coming from traditionally underrepresented groups.
  • Record Fundraising: Illinois State raised more than $31.2 million in private support last fiscal year, reaching its third highest private total support in University history. Through these donations, more than 2,700 scholarships were awarded, and 89 new scholarships were created.
  • High Student Loan Repayment Rate: Illinois State alums go on to successful careers, shown in the very low student loan default rate of our graduates (1.7 percent) compared with the national average (2.3 percent).
  • Military Friendly School: Illinois State supports veterans and those in the military. We are currently ranked a top 10 Military Friendly School by VIQTORY.
  • Top Public University: Washington Monthly ranked the University No. 64 out of all national universities for the institution’s contribution to the public good through social mobility, research, and public services in 2022. Illinois State also made the U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 ranks of America’s top public schools at No. 112.


Illinois State University is currently comprised of six academic colleges and Milner Library, each of which contains academic departments and centers designed to provide—singly and collectively—a comprehensive and robust academic experience for students. Degrees are offered at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Secondary education students major in their academic disciplines while completing their teacher preparation requirements under the auspices of the Council for Teacher Education. The University’s academic programs are supported by the services and collections of Milner Library. The addition of a College of Engineering is underway with plans to enroll the first cohort of students in Fall of 2025.

College of Applied Sciences and Technology houses the Departments and Schools of Agriculture, Criminal Justice, Family and Consumer Sciences, Health Sciences, Information Technology, Kinesiology and Recreation, Military Science, and Technology. The college also includes several significant centers, including the University Farm; the Center for Civic Engagement; and Illinois State’s well-known Gamma Phi Circus, the nation’s oldest collegiate circus.

College of Arts and Sciences houses 16 departments and offers many majors and minors at the undergraduate level. Some of these programs are interdisciplinary, including African-American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Latin American and Latina/o Studies. Many departments have graduate programs leading to master’s and doctoral degrees. The college houses many of Illinois State’s study abroad opportunities, the Center for Child Welfare and Adoption Studies, and the University’s radio station WGLT.

College of Business is known for its comprehensive undergraduate programs and its highly rated MBA program. It is one of only 188 business schools in the world to have both business and accounting accreditation by AACSB International and is recognized as one of the best choices for earning an MBA, according to the 2018 Edition of the Best Business Schools published by Princeton Review.

College of Education partners with departments across the University to offer teacher education programs in a wide variety of academic programs and areas of study. With 44 accredited teacher education programs and offerings at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, Illinois State remains true to its founding as Illinois State Normal University, specializing in teacher education. The College of Education is also home to Thomas Metcalf and University High School Laboratory Schools serving approximately 1,000 students.

Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts includes the Wonsook Kim School of Art, the School of Music, the School of Theatre and Dance, and the Program in Creative Technologies. University Galleries and Illinois Shakespeare Festival are also housed within the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts. Notable alumni include Nicholas Africano, Gary Cole, Sean Hayes, Judith Ivey, Terry Kinney, Jane Lynch, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, Cecilia Suarez, and Michelle Williams.

Mennonite College of Nursing offers nursing degrees at the bachelor’s and doctoral levels. Building on the rich history of nursing education at Mennonite College, established in 1919, the College of Nursing was incorporated into the University in 1999 as Illinois State’s sixth academic college. The college is proud of NCLEX and FNP pass rates consistently exceeding state and national averages and offers a state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation Lab with diverse clinical placements that prepare students to practice in a complex healthcare system.

Milner Library staff includes subject librarians who work closely with academic units to provide learning and research materials across the academic spectrum. Group study areas, quiet floors, collaboration stations, and a technology-rich environment support varied student learning styles. While the availability of electronic resources grows at a rapid rate, Milner is still home to 1.4 million physical volumes and the University Archives.


Dr. Aondover Tarhule, Interim President

Dr. Tarhule joined Illinois State University in 2020 as vice president for academic affairs and provost and currently serves as interim president. His immediate prior administrative appointment was vice provost and dean of the Graduate School at Binghamton University (State University of New York). Before that, he was executive associate dean and department chair in the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences at the University of Oklahoma. In these positions, he worked on creating new academic programs, increasing student enrollment, increasing diversity, faculty retention, shared governance, and international partnerships and linkages amongst other things.

Having earned master's degrees and a doctoral degree in geography from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Dr. Tarhule received a post-doctoral fellowship from the Canadian Science Advisory Council to conduct research at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Tarhule earned an additional master’s degree in environmental resources planning and a bachelor’s degree in geography, both from the University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria.

A broadly trained physical geographer, Dr. Tarhule has wide-ranging research interests in hydroclimatic variability, droughts, water resources scarcity, and climate information dissemination and use. His scholarly research has appeared in prestigious international journals, including Nature (Scientific Reports, Climate Perspectives), Journal of Hydrology, Remote Sensing, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, and book chapters. His efforts as principal investigator (PI) or co-PI have resulted in more than $5 million in grants from such agencies as the National Science Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development, the National Institute of Health, and the United States Geological Survey. He has served on the editorial board of the Scientific World Journal, the African Geographical Review and as guest editor on several journals including Remote Sensing, Atmosphere, and Climate Research.

Dr. Tarhule has served on committees of prominent national and international organizations, including as consultant to the World Bank (Climate Risk Assessment of the Niger River Basin Sustainable Development Action Plan) and member of the Executive Committee of the Board on Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate, and Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. He is a member of the College of Mentors of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and an Executive Board Member of the Walker Institute, University of Reading, in England.

Dr. Ani Yazedjian, Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Dr. Ani Yazedjian, University Professor, joined the Office of the Provost in 2019 as associate provost and currently serves as acting vice president for academic affairs and provost. In her role as associate provost, Yazedjian oversaw new program development through the Illinois Board of Higher Education, institutional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission, and was actively involved in the creation of the new College of Engineering. On campus, she supervised the Center for Civic Engagement, the Office of International Education, and University Assessment Services. Yazedjian served on the university strategic planning steering team and the COVID-19 steering team. 

Dr. Yazedjian has also served as chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Illinois State. As chair, she led the increase in the number of degree programs in the department, developed the first accelerated master’s degree programs on campus, created a new online dietetic internship certificate, increased student enrollment, oversaw over $1 million in equipment and facilities upgrades, and secured donor contributions for five new scholarships. She was named a University Professor in 2013 and received the University’s Distinguished Service Award in 2023. 

Over the last two decades, Dr. Yazedjian has received over $7 million to support her scholarly interests in delivering evidence-based programs to support adolescent development. Most recently, between 2015 and 2020, she directed the CARE4U program which provided over 1,100 primarily African American and Hispanic youth with relationship education, job readiness and financial management skills in order to support their successful transition to adulthood. In 2021, she received the Marie F. Peters Award from the National Council on Family Relations, a biennial recognition given to a distinguished scholar, researcher, or practitioner who has made significant contributions to the area of racial and ethnic diversity in families.

Prior to her time at Illinois State, Dr. Yazedjian was a faculty member in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State University. In 2010, she was appointed as Presidential Fellow where she served on the President’s Cabinet and focused on developing and implementing internationalization efforts across campus. She earned a doctorate and master’s degree in human and community development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Florida.  

Nationally, Dr. Yazedjian has served in leadership roles with the National Council on Family Relations, the Council for Accreditation of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, and the Council for Administrators in Family and Consumer Sciences. She was selected by the Higher Education Resource Services for the Wellesley Institute, which develops women leaders in higher education.

In the local community, she has been involved with the Family and Consumer Science Professionals of McLean County and volunteered with Junior Achievement. She also served for six years on the Board of the Multicultural Leadership Institute and continues to serve as mentor.

Bloomington-Normal Community

Illinois State University is located in the Central Illinois community of Bloomington-Normal, which has a combined population of 132,000. The community is home to Illinois Wesleyan University, Heartland Community College, OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Carle BroMenn Medical Center, Rivian Motors, COUNTRY Financial, and State Farm Insurance Corporate Headquarters. The community has distinguished itself for its outstanding school systems and educational attainment, parks and recreation, health care, job growth, economic opportunity, and low crime. Forbes magazine ranked Bloomington-Normal the 66th best small places for businesses and careers and 13th best for education.

The vibrant twin cities provide a high quality of life. Normal is ranked a Top 10 Best College Towns in America for a reason. There are plenty of activities and entertainment opportunities for students and staff locally, with more opportunities to explore nearby. Normal is centrally located in Illinois, making it possible to drive or catch a train to major cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. All are within 2-3 hours from campus. Public transportation systems make the community easily accessible, with a train and bus station within a few blocks of campus. There is also a regional airport with free parking that removes many of the hassles from flying. For more information on our community, please visit

Ranked the #3 Best Small City for Job-Seeking College Grads, there are multiple opportunities for students upon graduation. Illinois State partners with companies in the area including State Farm Insurance and COUNTRY Financial—both with headquarters in the community—to provide internships and employment.

There are ample leisure activities as well, with five public golf courses in the area, several lakes, and the 45-plus miles of the hard-surfaced Constitution Trail. Converted from an abandoned railroad, the trail is bustling with individuals walking, biking, running, and blading. There are numerous restaurants and shops to visit as well. Uptown Normal is home to locally owned retail outlets with quality products and delectable food. There are unique movies, concerts, theatrical performances, and festivals to attend in every season.

Application Process

The Search Committee invites letters of nomination, applications (letter of interest, complete CV, and references) or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm assisting Illinois State University. Confidential review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made. It is preferred, however, that all nominations and applications be submitted prior to August 9, 2023. For more information, please contact Parker Executive Search:

Porsha Williams, Vice President
Jacob Anderson, Senior Principal
Jack McGrew, Executive Recruiting Coordinator
Parker Executive Search
Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 2875 Atlanta, GA 30328 ||
(678) 775-4564

Illinois State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.

Compensation is commensurate with experience and in line with senior leadership at Illinois State University.

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