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New VP Focuses on Diversity, Inclusion

Oct. 16, 2013

Since Lori S. Gentles arrived on campus this summer as vice president for human resources, diversity and inclusion, she has been focused on positioning her division to develop creative solutions to problems while fostering an environment that will allow team members to flourish.
“We’re in a competitive environment, from both the public and private sectors, for the best faculty and staff,” she said. “Part of being the best is working toward diversity and inclusion. Historically, women and people of color have been underrepresented in institutions of higher learning and at higher levels of responsibility. Today’s workforce includes cultural and generational diversity — a greater depth and breadth from the traditional meaning of diversity. Inclusion of all types of employees will involve understanding and acceptance from existing faculty and staff in order to embrace the mission of the university and fulfill the university strategic plan. This will put Cal State Fullerton on the map in becoming one of the best employers for the 21st century workforce.”
In her newly-created position, Gentles is responsible for the development of Universitywide human resource strategies for the areas of diversity and inclusion, recruitment/employment, payroll, professional development, employee engagement, compensation/classification, benefits, employee/labor relations, risk management, and environmental health and safety, and more.
Gentles will tap into 25 years of professional and senior-level human resources leadership experience gained in both the public and private sector, most recently at San Francisco State University, which she joined in 2008.
During her first year at CSUF, she plans to work with the strategic planning task force on surveying faculty and staff to learn their perceptions of the University and build programs to enhance diversity. By the second year, her goal is to develop a diversity action plan. “The focus of my work will be on fulfilling Goal 3 of the strategic plan, ‘Recruit and retain a high-quality and diverse faculty and staff,’ ” Gentles explained. “Succeeding in this area will position us as an employer of choice in the academic community.
“Based on what we discover, we can create a new culture and shape rather than respond to issues of inclusivity,” she said. “I will meet with managers and develop working groups consisting of faculty and staff to focus on these issues.”
Gentles also believes in sharing information across campus. President Mildred García recently shared an email with the campus reaffirming the University’s Affirmative Action plan.
“We have done these plans previously but the information wasn’t shared broadly enough,” she said. “I want to communicate with faculty and staff so that they will understand where we are now and become advocates for where we want to go by making the right changes and implementing an effective and positive recruitment plan.”
“We have 133 faculty members to recruit and hire over the next two years and numerous staff and administrative positions. Our goal is to address challenges we may face and develop innovative recruitment and retention solutions.”

In her free time, Gentles enjoys travel (she’s been to every continent except Antarctica), reading and “a little bit of everything.” She enjoys athletics and also collects elephant figures as a symbol of good luck.

“I guess with all my elephants, it’s appropriate that I’m here at Cal State Fullerton,” she laughed. “I’ve found a home.”

Tags:  Campus Updates