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Old Gold & Black


Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

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CEO Pruitt

Dr. Dwain Pruitt ‘95 has been tapped as the inaugural Chief Equity Officer and has big plans ahead. Photo courtesy Mark Olencki.

There’s a new Chief Equity Officer in town

Wofford has recently named Dwain Pruitt as the inaugural Chief Equity Officer. This position, born from one of many JEDI recommendations, has the purpose of working “collaboratively with diverse campus stakeholders to advance the college’s strategic goals,” as stated in the job description posted during the summer.

As the result of efforts on campus to hold Wofford accountable to their history, many have wondered how this position will evolve under Pruitt’s leadership. 

Pruitt, a 1995 Wofford graduate, served as the ninth Presidential Scholar and remarks that his year of travel, research and study as a student allowed him to travel to Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Poland, India, Thailand and China, serving as a remarkable experience. 

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After Wofford, Pruitt went on to Emory University to earn his PhD in Early Modern European History. From Emory, Pruitt went on to lead an extensive career in academia while also working in administrative roles at a number of institutions throughout the Southeast. 

Finding his way back to Wofford was a twofold journey. On the one hand, Pruitt remarked that he has consistently been called upon to step up whenever diversity concerns arise. 

Pruitt said that there is “an unwritten expectation that minority faculty members will fall into (diversity leadership).” 

Additionally, Pruitt said that he found himself serving on the The Working Group on History, Memory and Place as a part of the JEDI Committee’s efforts to “make diversity, equity and inclusion the full responsibility of the entire college community.” Pruitt remarked that he fell into this role “as a favor to friends,” and it was this experience when he realized his interest in diversity work.

Reflecting on the impact of his work on JEDI and the committee’s work as a whole, Pruitt said that his goal was “for the student’s concerns to be heard, and for the board to realize that there was a potential path forward.” 

Pruitt said “(he) was simply trying to make sure that the clock didn’t run out,” so that no individual would be walking away from the experience of 2020 feeling like their concerns and calls to action were unheard. 

In applying for the position of Chief Equity Officer, Pruitt said he wrestled with whether or not to actually apply, since the bulk of his professional expertise is in academia and curricular work. 

After contemplating the opportunity, however, he decided to apply and promised “I would never have applied for (this position) if (my being here) was not something that could actually benefit Wofford College and its students.” 

Looking forward, Pruitt plans to work both with student organizations and administration and faculty/staff. 

Pruitt affirmed, “We will be partnering with every office’s DEI person.”

While the present day Office of Diversity and Inclusion includes just two employees, Pruitt and Matt Hammett as Title IX Coordinator, Pruitt has the intention of being very collaborative with every space on campus, assuring “wherever our services can be beneficial, we’ll be there.”

When asked how he plans to support programming for students on campus, Pruitt affirmed that his office will support programming and work with organizations to provide funding for speakers on campus, continuing the legacy of ODI to create ceaseless events with which students may engage. 

Pruitt wants to emphasize communication and transparency, which many students see as a perpetual struggle on campus. Specifically, Pruitt plans to create a series of advisory groups which will pull representatives from the student body, faculty, staff and alumni. Aiming to have these established by October, Pruitt’s hope is that all of these individuals will be able to listen and learn from each other. 

Of serious concern to Pruitt and his office is addressing “concerns about the bias reporting process.” He alluded to the creation of a new working model which will be instituted with haste in order to create an easier and readable way for students to navigate the process of bias incident reporting. 

When asked if he had any messages he wished to convey to the student body, Pruitt remarked, “we hope that people will give us the consideration and grace to build this system, realizing that there may be hiccups along the way. But, we are, in fact, committed to making this work.”

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