Beginning this summer, President Michael Roth will be joined by another veteran of the California College of the Arts (CCA): Sonia BasSheva Mañjon. Dr. Mañjon will become the University’s first Vice President for Diversity and Strategic Partnerships.
“I was impressed by Wesleyan’s history of diversity and the enthusiasm on the part of the students and faculty for civic engagement,” Mañjon said.
The Vice President for Diversity and Strategic Partnerships is a newly created position that will replace the Secretary of the University. The current Secretary of the University, Peter Patton, will continue in his other position as a professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences.
According to a University press release, Mañjon was hired to provide “leadership on civic engagement and cooperation with public and private organizations” and to “work with Wesleyan’s leadership team to attract, retain and inspire students, faculty and staff from groups currently under-represented on campus.”
Mañjon will direct the University’s projects in the Middletown community, including the Green Street Arts Center and the Center for Community Partnerships. She will also act as the Affirmative Action Officer, oversee Public Safety and serve as a member of the president’s cabinet.
There will be some reorganization of the administration accompanying Mañjon’s arrival, but administrators indicate that, for the most part, staff will be moved into positions that are currently open.
“It’s not like North College is changing dramatically,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Whaley.
A committee was recently formed to assess and potentially reform student services. The committee, which includes Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Joe Bruno and Whaley will continue to meet over the summer. Other administrative changes will be announced by Whaley in the coming weeks.
Mañjon was first introduced to the University when she attended President Roth’s inauguration in November. She will join the University’s administration on July 1.
At CCA, Mañjon was the director of the Center for Art in Public Life and the co-chair of the College’s diversity initiatives. She characterizes the Center as similar to a combination of the University’s Green Street Arts Center and the Center for Community Partnerships. Mañjon also chaired the Diversity Studies Program and created the nation’s first BFA program in community arts.
“Students look at how they as artists can make changes in society, specifically in social justice and diversity issues,” Mañjon said, explaining the community arts program.
She says this degree was created in response to a demand from students. So far the program has five graduates. However, Mañjon presently has no plans to create a similar program here at the University.
“There’s a lot happening at Wesleyan already,” she said. “I’ll be meeting with various groups, including students, before I start trying to make changes to your environment.”
Roth was the president of CCA while Mañjon was developing her program, and the two worked together throughout their tenure at CCA. Roth appointed Mañjon as soon as the position became open. No other candidates were considered for the position.
“I am delighted to have Sonia join our efforts at Wesleyan,” Roth said in the University’s press release. “She is a tireless innovator with a very sophisticated sense of how to nurture existing relationships and create new partnerships with communities and constituencies of all sorts.”