University of Wisconsin provost Peter Spear appointed UW physics professor Bernice Durand to fill the newly created seat of associate vice chancellor of diversity and climate.

Spear said Durand will work to further Plan 2008, a plan to, among other things, recruit and retain students and faculty of color on UW’s campus. He said Durand is well equipped to fill this position because she was involved in writing and overseeing the implementation of Plan 2008 and knows the plan’s objectives inside and out.

“In short, Bernice’s qualifications show she is very, very committed to increasing diversity in the student body, staff and faculty,” Spear said.

Durand’s new appointment will also include work to create a friendlier climate for minorities and women, Spear said. Durand has worked to help promote women in science-related fields and is the active in the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute, a program that encourages women to pursue careers in the sciences.

One way Durand plans to recruit a more diverse student body is by including women and minorities on search committees, Spear said. Spear says this technique has been shown to increase diversity in candidate pools and leads to more diversity in faculty members.

Associated Students of Madison chair Bryan Gadow said he looks forward to working with Durand as part of ASM’s campaign in support of Plan 2008. Gadow said ASM’s work to promote the plan is an effort to ensure its objectives are met. Gadow said he hopes to “gain ground in this area” and will be looking to Durand for help.

“ASM’s campaign for Plan 2008 is our way of holding the administration responsible for the university’s goals of recruiting, hiring and retaining under-represented groups to the student body and faculty,” Gadow said.

Durand will continue to teach in UW’s physics department part-time and will return to teaching full-time in three to five years, Spear said.