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Mercedes Ramírez Fernández to step down in August

June 28, 2022
Mercedes Ramírez Fernández at a podium.Mercedes Ramírez Fernández makes remarks during the 2022 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Leadership Summit in April. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Ramírez Fernández has served as the University’s first vice president for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer since 2019.

Mercedes Ramírez Fernández, the Richard Feldman Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and the chief diversity officer at the University of Rochester, is stepping down on August 30, 2022. She has been appointed the vice president for equity and diversity at the University of Minnesota.

Ramírez Fernández has served in her current role since July 1, 2019. During her time at Rochester, she has led efforts to embed equity, diversity, and inclusion into the fiber of the institution. She helped create the inaugural Institutional Office of Equity and Inclusion (IOEI) and spearheaded the revision of the Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment. At the height of racial and social justice unrest in the nation, she deployed crisis leadership and worked tirelessly to establish the University’s first equity, diversity, and inclusion framework to promote climate and culture transformative change.

“I am proud of the establishment of the Institutional Office of Equity and Inclusion. It is a labor of love and connection amongst tremendously committed people,” Ramírez Fernández said. “I have learned so much here at Rochester; the lessons are a catalyst when creating structures that support equity, actualized access, and racial and social justice.”

At the University of Minnesota, Ramírez Fernández will oversee seven offices and seven major initiatives with approximately 120 staff members that provide critical services and support to students, faculty, and staff within the Office of Equity and Diversity. As vice president, she will champion a transformative vision for the continued efforts to bring diversity and equity to all aspects of academic advancement, collective decision-making, and resource allocation.

President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf remarked, “Mercedes not only established the University’s first office dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion, but she also took a holistic approach to enacting an institutional diversity strategy. She and her team offered resources, training, and support across the entire University as part of the ongoing work involved in realizing our institutional commitment to achieving a diverse and inclusive community. Mercedes has been an integral member of my senior leadership team. While I will miss her insights and guidance, I wish her well in her new role at Minnesota.”

Over the next two months, Ramírez Fernández will focus on transition efforts in collaboration with Sasha Eloi-Evans, the associate vice president for equity and inclusion and deputy chief diversity officer at the University.

A national search for Ramírez Fernández’s successor will be conducted. Plans for interim leadership of the office will be announced in the coming weeks.

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