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Vice President for Student Affairs Heather French to assume the dual role of Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer

HomeNews StoriesHomepage NewsHomepage NewsVice President for Student Affairs Heather French to assume the dual role of Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer

Effective January 3, 2022, Vice President for Student Affairs Heather French will assume the dual role of Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer.

While continuing in her role as the Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. French will serve as Fontbonne’s first ever senior diversity officer. Dr. French will work collaboratively with students, staff and faculty to develop a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) campus plan in support of the university mission and strategic plan. “Fontbonne recognizes the importance of the work that is being done and that remains to be done in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Fontbonne University’s President Dr. Nancy Blattner. “Appointing a CDO who is a member of Fontbonne’s executive leadership team expresses to the community, employees, and students  our unwavering commitment to these areas and our willingness to address them.”  

“I am excited and honored for this opportunity,” said Dr. French. “Assuming the Chief Diversity Officer role at Fontbonne, I recognize the many committed and passionate staff, faculty and students who have made contributions in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion work at our university. I intend to partner with those colleagues and students who are dedicated to embracing and furthering Fontbonne’s commitment to diversity.” 


Throughout Dr. French’s professional journey, her passion for educating and developing students has propelled her to serve as an advocate and ensure an equitable experience for all students. While working at Sonoma State University, Dr. French served as Co-Director of the Multicultural Center. “Our role was to provide campus programming that served the needs of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students on a campus where they were significantly underrepresented. I am proud of the work we did to initiate cultural celebrations and graduations, offer educational workshops and programs, and provide support to multicultural student organizations. “

During her tenure at Holy Names University, Dr. French facilitated the development of several initiatives pertaining to DEI work on campus. Some examples of this work included implementing annual diversity training for the campus, advocating for cultural graduation ceremonies, developing recruitment and hiring resources, serving on the Campus Diversity Task Force, contributing to a Bias Incident Response Policy, and more. During this same time, Dr. French completed her dissertation using a Participatory Action Research methodology: Examining White Privilege in Higher Education.  “I maintain a commitment to stay current in DEI best practices both as a scholar-practitioner and as someone who is deeply invested in the Fontbonne experience and community,” said Dr. French. 

“I take the responsibility of serving as Fontbonne’s first senior diversity officer very seriously while also recognizing the need to address the limitations, inherent biases, and shortcomings that my privileged identities may bring to the role,” says Dr. French. “The values of DEI remain at the center of my daily work: to serve students and facilitate a campus climate of inclusion.” 

In addition to working with the DEI committee to launch the Bias Incident Response process later this semester, Dr. French is invested in inviting dialogue with campus community members and will be actively seeking out feedback in setting a vision for a DEI campus plan.  

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