Carlos Medina '78 Leads SUNY Diversity Efforts


Carlos Medina '78 Leads SUNY Diversity Efforts

Carlos N. Medina ’78 was recently named the State University of New York’s first chief diversity officer by SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall and Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.

As the first chief diversity officer for the 64-campus SUNY, Medina is one of only a handful of people to hold the position within higher education systems nationally.

He also serves as senior associate vice chancellor for SUNY.

Medina, appointed April 18 as part of the system’s commitment to advance the “Power of SUNY” diversity goals, now chairs the recently created statewide SUNY Task Force on Diversity.

The task force is charged with identifying new ways in which diversity can be increased in the 463,000-student system to better reflect the diversity of New York state. Members of the task force, which was first announced in Chancellor Zimpher’s 2014 State of the University Address, will be named soon.

McCall and Zimpher praised Medina for his exemplary leadership qualities and for having the necessary knowledge and insight for the job.

“Infusing diversity into all that we do at SUNY is a core value of our strategic plan, one that Carlos has helped us achieve with great distinction over the years,” said Chancellor Zimpher.

As SUNY associate provost and associate vice chancellor for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion since August 2011, Medina has led SUNY’s efforts in promoting and advancing the university’s diversity goals and ensuring that they are reflected in all university policies and procedures.

“SUNY nurtures communities, respects individuality, and embraces inclusion better than any system of higher education across the country,” said Medina.

“Our investment in diversity programs through the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion celebrates the unique talents students and faculty bring to SUNY and provides opportunities for students to succeed in ever more diverse global environments and enterprises,” he said. “This task force will help ensure that we continue our pledge to make ‘Diversity Count’ in the SUNY educational experience.”

As a result of Medina’s leadership, SUNY has received the prestigious Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award for 2012 and 2013 from Insight into Diversity Magazine, one of the oldest and largest diversity periodicals to cover higher education nationally. The award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

Lane and Medina
Carlos Medina ’78, right, delivered the keynote speech in 2009 at the College’s 11th annual Unity Celebration. He is pictured with then-student Michael Lane.

Medina continues to be directly responsible for overseeing the implementation and management of various graduate and undergraduate programs dedicated to serving underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students, faculty, and staff, and promoting inclusion and student success.

He currently serves as regional representative for the Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities; as system representative for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education; and represents SUNY in the joint effort of the National Association of System Heads and the Education Trust in the Access to Success Initiative.

Medina formerly served as an assistant provost and was instrumental in helping build the SUNY Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s portfolio of programs and overall capacity since its inception in 2007.

He has provided leadership and strategic direction to SUNY campuses and has worked to strengthen the intersections between diversity and academic excellence. That included spearheading statewide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) conferences in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

Medina directed student support services for SUNY’s Center for Academic and Workforce Development and managed a $12.5 million budget as director of the Bridge Program — SUNY’s flagship Welfare-to-Work Initiative — and the “Financing Your Independence” Program.

His work for the New York State Education Department from 1989 to 1997 included managing a host of teacher preparation, math and science enrichment, educational opportunity, and professional development programs across the state. Medina has more than 25 years of experience in state government and higher education. He has received many honors, including the New York State Assembly Leadership and Community Service Citation in 2013.

A Puerto Rican native, Medina was raised in a financially struggling, single parent family in Brooklyn, N.Y., where few of his classmates were encouraged to seek higher education. Recognizing his own potential to attend college, he enrolled in SUNY Cortland’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

Medina earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the College. Later, he obtained a master in professional services degree in human services administration from Cornell University under a prestigious graduate fellowship program. He is pursuing a doctorate in education at St. John Fisher College.