President Bonita C. Jacobs has appointed Sheila Caldwell as advisor to the president on diversity at the University of North Georgia (UNG) to build on institutional diversity efforts.
"Our Diversity Council, which was started in 2014, is helping UNG take significant actions to ensure that our commitment to diversity is clear and that our university community appreciates the importance of diversity," Jacobs said. "Building on the work already underway, Sheila will work with our constituencies to develop and implement initiatives that will enable all members of the university community to thrive and contribute to our mission of educating and preparing students to become leaders in a diverse and global society."
Caldwell, who joined UNG in July 2013 as director of the university's Complete College Georgia initiative, a statewide initiative aimed at increasing the percentage of Georgia's population with some level of college completion to 60 percent to meet projected workforce needs, will continue to lead that work in addition to her new role.
"I feel that my two roles are perfectly aligned, as both address diversity, inclusion, academic excellence, and student success," Caldwell said. "My role as diversity advisor to the president is to serve as a change agent to nurture diversity and inclusion at the university, which will improve educational experiences for all our stakeholders and encourage a stronger UNG."
Caldwell's short-term priorities include crafting a UNG Diversity Statement and Diversity Strategic Plan. Long-term goals for the university include hiring and retaining high-caliber, diverse job candidates; creating awareness, developing employee competencies, and building skills to ensure a more inclusive learning and work environment; supporting and strengthening current diversity initiatives; implementing diversity awards for faculty and staff who champion diversity; and starting a presidential diversity speaker series.
"I recognize that UNG has areas for improvement, but I believe that we are starting from a good place. UNG has several diversity initiatives we can build on to create a more inclusive UNG," Caldwell said. "For example, we offer several courses focused on diversity in the curriculum; we have created the Open, Understanding, Respect, Safe (OURS) Campaign; and in 2014 Dr. Jacobs created the Diversity Council that includes faculty, staff, students, and administrators. Additionally, we have a great student group on the Gainesville Campus called Diplomats for Diversity that we plan to expand to the Dahlonega Campus this year and hopefully to other UNG campuses soon."
In 2015, Caldwell was awarded the Dr. Louise McBee Scholarship by the Georgia Association for Women in Higher Education. The scholarship recognizes leadership, academic excellence and community service in the field of higher education.
Before coming to UNG, Caldwell was the state coordinator of high school initiatives for the Technical College System of Georgia. Caldwell also has worked in admissions at Northwestern Business College, Illinois Institute of Art and Georgia Medical Institute. She also served as dual enrollment coordinator for DeKalb Technical College.
Caldwell has a bachelor's degree in marketing from Northern Illinois University and a master's degree in educational leadership from Argosy University. She currently is pursuing a doctoral degree in workforce education from the University of Georgia.