Chief Diversity Officer Named

Joelle A. Murchison, associate vice president and chief diversity officer, University of Connecticut. (Jeff Yardis Photo)
Joelle A. Murchison has been named associate vice president and chief diversity officer. (Jeff Yardis Photo)

Joelle A. Murchison has been named associate vice president and chief diversity officer at the University of Connecticut. The announcement was made at Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting, and concludes an extensive national search.

Murchison, currently vice president of enterprise diversity and inclusion for The Travelers Companies, Inc., will serve as the University’s main strategist responsible for guiding efforts to define, assess, and promote diversity, inclusion, and educational and employment opportunity. She will develop programs and coordinate activities to recruit and retain faculty, students, and staff from diverse backgrounds.

She will begin her new role on July 5.

“At UConn, we must ensure that people of every background can call UConn home – whether as a student or an employee – and that the opportunities and advantages found at UConn are accessible to everyone,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. We cannot rely on chance alone to bring that about. It requires thoughtful, proactive effort on our part to ensure that our student body, our faculty, and our staff reflect the face of our diverse state and world.

“The chief diversity officer is an essential component of that effort,” Herbst added. “We are very happy to welcome Joelle to UConn, and look forward to working very closely with her.”

Reporting directly to the president and working with senior academic and administrative leaders, Murchison will lead the University’s Diversity Council and oversee efforts to review and assess the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion programs at UConn.

She also will work with University units that are responsible for equity and diversity programs supporting a campus environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

“In a real sense, I am returning to my academic roots, and I am excited to be joining the team at UConn as we take important steps forward to strengthen the commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Murchison said. “This position presents the opportunity for us all to work together to examine, embrace, and leverage the best of what each member of the campus community has to offer as we move into the future.”

In her current role as chief diversity officer for Travelers, a firm with major operations in Hartford employing some 30,000 people worldwide, Murchison is responsible for creating, implementing, and leading the execution of the company’s diversity strategy. She manages The Travelers’ executive diversity council, working directly with business leaders to develop a workforce and business strategy related to diversity.

She also serves as a member of the Travelers’ EDGE (Empowering Dreams to Graduation and Education) leadership team, which ties the company’s education efforts to diversity and career opportunity, and of which UConn is a partner.

Prior to joining Travelers, Murchison held similar positions at UTC and INROADS Inc., a non-profit organization that partners with corporations to provide summer internships to underrepresented college students. She also was a diversity trainer/consultant in the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut’s ‘A World of Difference Program.’

Her extensive background dealing with diversity and inclusion issues also includes higher education: she previously served as special assistant to the dean/director of multicultural programs at Wesleyan University.

Murchison holds a bachelor of arts degree in public policy & American institutions from Brown University. She also holds a master of education degree in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and a master of science degree in communications management from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.