February 8, 2021
Dear Trojan Community,
It’s my pleasure to announce the appointment of Christopher Manning as USC’s first Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer (CIDO), effective March 1. Chris brings far-reaching advocacy experience to our efforts to combat racism and discrimination in all their forms, and to encourage a spirit of respect, understanding, and belonging for everyone who comes to our campuses. He joins us from Loyola University Chicago, where he most recently served as Associate Provost for Academic Diversity.
Chris’ appointment is historic for USC. Not only is he our first-ever CIDO, but extensive community feedback helped define his role and its place in our community. The critical input we received also helped guide our national search process. Among a group of excellent candidates, Chris stood out for his deep experience and enthusiasm – as well as for his innovative ideas for empowering our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members.
At USC, Chris will report to me and be part of my senior leadership team, and he will provide expert leadership in developing university-wide programs and policies that will make diversity and inclusion top priorities. His experience will be especially helpful to our ongoing culture journey. In addition, he will lead the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Council as well as help implement the President and Provost’s Taskforce on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) and the Department of Public Safety Community Advisory Board (CAB).
Chris will also work closely with academic and administrative leaders across USC to increase opportunities for student, staff and faculty success, build supportive and compassionate environments, and press for equity and integrity in everything we do. Chris has a strong track record as an effective collaborator and understands that our success will be dependent on our willingness to work together toward common goals.
In transitioning to his new role, Chris will draw upon his outstanding work at Loyola. There, he greatly enhanced DEI training and education, championed faculty diversity, and tackled barriers to access. This work brought about meaningful change for the entire Loyola community, especially in giving students from marginalized populations the support and the space to help them succeed.
Chris also has a talent for building partnerships with people from many different backgrounds and perspectives. He played a key role in launching numerous professional mentoring networks at Loyola, which have strengthened crucial support systems for underserved groups of faculty members and graduate students.
Just as notably, the success of Chris’ strategic planning and community engagement has inspired his peers in higher education. During his time as an American Council on Education Fellow, he spent much of last year in California where he partnered with colleagues at San Diego State University and contributed to the development of their DEI efforts. He is looking forward to returning to California.
In addition to his institutional leadership, Chris has been a member of Loyola’s faculty for nearly two decades. His work with students, particularly in overseeing the university’s undergraduate history curriculum, shows his commitment to hearing from – and amplifying – underrepresented voices. A scholar of African American history, he earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, before going on to receive his master’s and Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University.
You can read more about Chris’ accomplishments and his career in the USC News story. Among his many talents, Chris has a close connection to the arts. He is a talented Latin dancer and founded Inspiración Dance Chicago, a nonprofit dance company known for partnering with local schools and teaching dance to young students. I know we’re all excited to work with him, and to get to know him better.
Before closing, I would like to thank the members of our search committee, which was co-chaired by Charles Zukoski, our Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Felicia Washington, our Senior Vice President for Human Resources. Their terrific work was so crucial to this important process, and to bringing it to such a successful conclusion.
Please join me in welcoming Chris and his wife Katherine to our Trojan Family.
Carol L. Folt