Grand Valley names vice president for Inclusion and Equity

Jesse M. Bernal
Jesse M. Bernal
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Grand Valley State University President Thomas J. Haas has named Jesse M. Bernal vice president for Inclusion and Equity.

“Dr. Bernal has the experience, talent and fresh thinking needed to enhance and expand Grand Valley’s commitment to diversity,” Haas said. “I look forward to having him on the Grand Valley senior management team for years to come. He has much to contribute to Grand Valley and to West Michigan.”

Bernal is director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at Santa Clara University in California, where he focuses on recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty, staff and student body. Prior to joining SCU, Bernal coordinated system-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives in the Office of the President at the University of California. While a student at UC Santa Barbara, he was appointed a voting member of the Board of Regents of the University of California and served for two years. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Westmont College, and a master’s and a doctorate in education, both from UC Santa Barbara.

“I am honored to be asked to join Grand Valley and proudly accept President Haas’ invitation,” Bernal said. “Grand Valley is a leader for equity in public higher education. I look forward to partnering with all members of the campus community and our neighbors across West Michigan to build on the solid groundwork set by long-standing diversity champions. We all have a stake in this work, and together we will continue to advance our commitment to the inclusion and success of all our students and community members.”

The mission of the Inclusion and Equity Division is to provide a rich, inclusive, learning and working environment that attracts, retains and supports a diverse community of students, staff and faculty.  The Inclusion and Equity Division at Grand Valley is committed to:
• Removing barriers to full participation;
• Creating and maintaining inclusive excellence;
• Developing intercultural competency;
• Advancing a campus climate of inclusion and equity;
• Building and engaging the community, and
• Advancing social justice.

Bernal expects to join the university in late February. He succeeds Jeanne Arnold, the university’s first vice president for Inclusion and Equity, who left the university in July 2014 after serving in the position for seven years. Wendy Wenner, a longtime Grand Valley dean and faculty member, is leading the division until Bernal takes over next month.