university of missouri protests
Students are shown walking at the University of Missouri's main campus in Columbia, Nov. 9, 2015. Getty Images/Michael B. Thomas

Following a leadership shakeup at the University of Missouri after black students had complained of racism there, school officials announced Tuesday the appointment of its first-ever Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer. Chuck Henson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Trial Practice at the University of Missouri School of Law, has been named for the position, elevating him to a vice chancellorship.

Henson, who has been with the university since 2009, will oversee diversity initiatives for the UM system, which enrolls approximately 27,000 students statewide. Accountability and metrics will be established for the position going forward, according to a statement about the position released Monday.

Donald Cupps, chairman of the university's Board of Curators, previously said the diversity officer would be appointed "within the next 90 days," according to the statement. The appointment comes one day after Tim Wolfe, the former university president, resigned in response to the demands of African-American students and faculty who complained of inaction after racial slurs and a swastika appeared on campus.

The addition of a diversity officer had been among a list of demands made by students in the protest group Concerned Students 1950, a name chosen in reference to the year that black students were first admitted to the University of Missouri. Students at the campus in Columbia, Missouri, also asked for more African-American faculty and mental health resources for students who have experienced racial trauma.

The role of chief diversity officer is a relatively new and growing executive leadership position at U.S. colleges and universities, according to the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. Although the scope of this role can vary between institutions, a diversity officer typically oversees the strategic plan for system-wide inclusion of racial minorities, people of different socio-economic status, people with disabilities and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, among other population groups.

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