Two new Capital University appointees say promoting diversity and inclusion is among their top priorities.
Andre Porter is the first African American to hold the position of trustees chairman, and Reynaldo Anaya Valencia is the first Latino to serve as dean of Capital University Law School.
Capital's focus on diversity coincides with the city of Bexley's diversity-and-inclusion strategic plan, which City Council is set to discuss further Aug. 11 after it reconvenes from its summer recess.
Porter said the board of trustees plans to work with David Kaufman, who was appointed by the board in June as Capital's interim president, to improve diversity among faculty and staff.
"Our immediate plans are going to be supporting the administrative structure inside the university to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion, which will include the hiring of a new leader for diversity at Capital," Porter said. "That's on the first priority list."
An Alliance native, Porter, 40, is a Capital alumnus who is concluding his third term as a trustee and previously served as the board's vice chair. He succeeds Bernie Ostrowski, who will remain on the board as immediate past chair for a one-year term.
Porter is vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which provides open-access transmission service and monitors the high-voltage transmission system in the Midwest, as well as in Manitoba, Canada, and a southern U.S. region that includes Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from Capital University and a juris doctor degree from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. He lives in Westfield, Indiana, near MISO's headquarters, with his wife and their three children.
Valencia, 55, is a Lubbock, Texas, native who comes to Capital from the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law, where he served as associate dean for finance and administration and as a professor of law. He also served in the White House Fellows program in President Bill Clinton's administration and earned graduate and undergraduate degrees from Stanford University. He holds a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School. He will move to Columbus from Dallas with his three sons, who are in middle and high school.
As a Mexican American whose parents came from migrant farmworker families, Valencia said, he has an understanding of issues that affect underrepresented groups.
"My dad had a third-grade education; my mother had a sixth-grade education," he said. "When I said I want to grow up and go to some of the national schools I want to go to, my mom and dad were extraordinarily supportive, but they had no concept of it."
Valencia has practiced, taught, written and lectured nationally and internationally on race and gender issues, corporate law and corporate bankruptcy.
He said he became interested in joining Capital University Law School because of its "mission of public service, inclusion, keeping costs down for students. ... The mission attracted me, first and foremost."
Capital University Provost Jody Fournier said in a news release announcing the law-school appointment that Valencia's experience is a good fit with the institution.
"Rey brings incredible experience and energy to the position and is poised to lead the law school into the next phase of legal education," Fournier said. "He has a keen sense of our mission and values and, at the same time, a fresh perspective for preparing students for the legal profession."
Both Porter and Valencia said they also are working on plans to resume in-person classes at Capital's main campus at College Avenue and East Main Street in Bexley and at the law school, 303 E. Broad St. in downtown Columbus, in the fall while maintaining 6-foot-distancing requirements to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
"Capital, like other universities, was clearly impacted by COVID-19," Porter said. "We've had a cross-promotional team working on the mission of getting professors and students back to campus this fall."
"Our goal, if at all possible, is to have the first-year students have an on-campus experience because they haven't been in the building; they haven't seen the classrooms," Valencia said.
In addition to Porter and Valencia, Capital's board also appointed Marti Taylor, senior leader for Verily Life Sciences, the health-sciences arm of Google, and CEO of OneFifteen, a Dayton-based nonprofit organization that provides substance-abuse treatment, as the board's vice chair.