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May 13, 2008
By John Trent
Michael Coray, who in 18 years as Special Assistant to the President for Diversity has overseen the University’s most concerted effort to develop and implement campus-wide diversity initiatives, will step down from his position on July 1 in order to return to the faculty, Provost Jannet Vreeland announced on Tuesday, May 13.
Coray, who joined Nevada’s faculty in 1972, will take faculty development leave for the 2008-09 academic year before returning to the faculty as a professor in the Department of History.
“In 1990, Michael was given the important charge to help this campus become a much more diversified place, to ensure that students, faculty and staff all had access to groups that would further their participation in campus-wide diversity issues,” Vreeland said. “The position required a strong person, and Michael has certainly been a tireless advocate for diversity on our campus. We are a better place today because of his work.”
Coray said he is looking forward to returning to what he called the “electricity” of the classroom. Before he was appointed the University’s first Special Assistant to the President for Diversity by then-President Joe Crowley in 1990, Coray was considered one of the campus’ foremost history professors, particularly in his specialty of African-American history.
“I’d like to return to teaching because it’s always been my passion,” Coray said. “For me, the classroom has always been about creating a safe environment for dissent. I don’t know if I can re-construct it after 18 years of being away from teaching, but I’d like certainly like to try. Eighteen years is a long time to be in administration. The timing for this decision just seemed right.”
Coray said that over the years, during his time in the position, there has been one constant.
“Maybe I’ve been able to bring voices to the table that hadn’t historically been listened to,” Coray said. “I hope I’ve been able to help some groups or individuals realize that they do have a voice and that they can learn to use it, and that you should take some pride in the fact that your voice is now heard.”
Under Coray’s guidance, a structure for campus-wide, diversity-related committees that have been constituent or issue-based was enacted. The structure ensured that many groups had direct reporting lines from the Coray in his role as special assistant to the president for diversity to the Office of the President.
The groups under this structure include the Committee on the Status of Women, the University Disabilities Resource Coalition, Advocates and Allies for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Committee , Multiethnic Coalition and Intercultural Council. Coray also re-directed reporting lines for the long-standing Work & Family Taskforce, and convened meetings for the Diversity Dialogues Group – students, faculty and staff volunteers who strive to provide opportunities for the University community to discuss significant and timely issues.
“Trying to make the institution a more caring institution has been one of my biggest goals,” Coray said. “We all want the University to be a place where we care about and for each other, where every voice is valued and every voice is heard.”