Cheryl Gittens, an assistant vice provost in University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement, has been named interim leader of the university’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

Gittens will assume the role of interim deputy vice chancellor and chief diversity officer on July 11. She will succeed Patrick Sims, who is leaving to become the executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

“This is a crucial role on our campus at a time when continued progress on equity and inclusion is not only expected but essential,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “We are very fortunate to have someone with Dr. Gittens’ experience and skill to lead this effort. She brings deep knowledge of the issues and is highly respected by our students, faculty and staff.”

In the interim position, Gittens will provide overall leadership for the university’s efforts to create a diverse, inclusive, and successful work and learning environment for all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others who partner with the university. She will work with schools, colleges, and other administrative units across campus on diversity and inclusion initiatives while supervising the key diversity units that comprise the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement (DDEEA).

“We’re seeing our faculty, staff and students engage vigorously on these issues and commit to meaningful action,” says Provost Karl Scholz. “Under Dr. Gittens’ direction, DDEEA will play a critical role in providing guidance and resources to the campus community. I look forward to working with her and am confident she will provide terrific leadership.”

Gittens is an accomplished academic and student affairs administrator who has successfully planned, implemented and managed programs and services designed to increase high school graduation, college enrollment, and retention at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“It is an honor to serve as UW–Madison’s interim chief diversity officer,” Gittens says. “Over the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead, partner, and collaborate with outstanding university students, faculty, staff, and community members to engage diversity, promote student access and success, and reinforce our relations with the community. In this vital role, my goal is to continue to push the momentum forward and strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity. I am excited to work with our leadership and community during this critical period.”

Gittens joined UW–Madison as an assistant vice provost in DDEEA in 2017. In that role, she has been overseeing a portfolio of programs that includes the Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO), the Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE), the McNair Scholars Program, and the Academic Coaching and Tutoring Service, as well as other efforts to realize the institutional mission toward a diverse, welcoming and inclusive campus.

Gittens previously served as the vice president of education and chief academic officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. Prior to that, she was director of student affairs and community service learning at the University of Virginia. Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work at Rutgers University. She earned a doctorate of education at George Washington University.

UW–Madison anticipates initiating a formal search for the permanent position in the near future.