Indian-American appointed chief diversity officer at New York college

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Mona Jha was appointed permanent Chief Diversity Officer at Baruch College, City University of New York, May 5. (Photo courtesy Mona Jha)

Baruch College in downtown Manhattan, a senior college of the City University of New York, has appointed Indian-American Mona Jha, to a permanent position as Chief Diversity Officer. President of Baruch College Mitchel B. Wallerstein, made the announcement May 5.

Jha hopes that her role will help to effectuate change in the staffing and faculty at the college to reflect the diversity of the student body. Jha told Desi Talk she found it most gratifying to assist those in need.

Her position also involves investigating claims brought under the University’s Non-Discrimination Policies, serveing as Title IX Coordinator, and as the Section 504/ADA Coordinator to assure compliance with federal and state laws and regulations concerning persons with disabilities.  The CDO is the liaison to the University Office of Diversity and Recruitment.

Prior to this permanent position, Jha was serving as the Interim Chief Diversity Officer since January. Before that, since the fall of 2016, she worked in Baruch’s Office of Diversity, Compliance, and Equity Initiatives as part-time Deputy Title IX Coordinator, and she was the substitute Affirmative Action Officer from March 2012 through August 2013.

Wallerstein praised Jha for her “considerable skills and experience” to take over this “important” position.

Jha, whose parents hail from Bihar, came to this country when she was 11 years old, she said. She has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in political science from University of Pennsylvania and her JD, with distinction, from Hofstra University School of Law.  She said she took up law because she enjoyed the analytical and intellectual challenges of legal studies.

Earlier in her career, Jha served as Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the State Attorney General, where she defended New York agencies and employees in employment discrimination and other cases brought in state and federal courts.

As Chief Diversity Officer, Jha heads the Office of Diversity, Compliance, and Equity Initiatives, and directly reports to Wallerstein. She also serves on the President’s Cabinet.

“The most gratifying part of my job is helping students, faculty and staff in need – they know they have a safe place to go to when they experience sexual harassment, racial, ethnic, gender or age discrimination,” she said. In her current position, Jha feels she is in a position to resolve issues and make positive changes.

According to Wallerstein’s statement, in her role as CDO, Jha is responsible for overseeing the collection and analysis of data; monitoring and reviewing affirmative action policy, compliance and/or procedures; submitting written reports to the president and other officials; providing counseling and information on diversity and affirmative action issues; serving as liaison between Baruch College community and campus interest groups; and working with deans, chairs, and directors of administrative units in the development of innovative recruitment efforts.

Wallerstein said he was delighted Jha had acceped the offer to take on the permanent position. ” I am confident that she will do an outstanding job in this role,” he added.