Former Corporate Recruiter Vows to Play
Active Role as Diversity Director
By Richard Veilleux
Dana McGee isn't a desk person. And she doesn't think deans, department heads, faculty and administrators should spend too much time behind a desk either. At least, that is, not when it comes to helping the University become a more diverse community.
"Executive search firms have known this for decades," says McGee, UConn's new director of the Office of Diversity and Equity and a former corporate recruiter.
She takes over from Irene Quong Conlon, who retired this summer.
"You have to find out where the people you want to recruit are going to be, find out what they read, where the associations they belong to meet," McGee says.
"Then you have to push yourself away from your desk - your comfort zone - and get out there and meet them," she says. "Give a lecture at their meetings, say hello, pass out your business card. Brag about UConn."
That's what McGee plans to do.
"UConn has always been in my blood," says the former attorney, who comes to UConn from The Hartford, where she has been manager of executive research and recruiting for the past two years.
"My mom earned her master's degree here, and my father's a long-time manager at Pfizer, which has had ties with UConn for years," adds McGee. She also served as co-chair of the Women's Health Update Conference Committee for a year.
"We're making some great strides in spreading the word about UConn," McGee continues. "We've had some major wins, letting the public know we have a valuable product. Now, we have to do a more aggressive job of selling it to our target audience. We have to be more aggressive and more creative in going after the top pool of talent."
McGee, who lives in Vernon, earned a bachelor's degree in political science at the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Boston College.
She isn't shy about placing the burden of making good hires on faculty, deans, or vice presidents, saying the job of adding diversity to UConn's ranks doesn't belong solely in her office or in human resources.
But she vows that her office, which reports to Ron Taylor, vice provost for multicultural affairs, will help departments build their pool from the moment a search starts - which may be a year before a job has even opened.
"I want the Office of Diversity and Equity to be more involved in the search process," she says.
McGee says she's been encouraged by what she's seen in the five weeks she's been at the University, especially by the number of deans, directors and faculty calling to ask for help.
"We have a lot of work to do," she says, referring to her staff of three - Nancy Bryant, Lori Coffey, and Judy Barclay. She points out that her office deals not only with searches but with complaints about sexual harassment and discrimination.
"We want to help people resolve those complaints before they get out of hand," she says. "It's important for people to know, though, that we're a neutral agency. We can't be seen as biased. We're the last resort when the unions or complainants can't resolve an issue."
One issue McGee must resolve, however, is enhancing UConn's diversity which, while moving in the proper direction, still falls short of the state's goals. She says meeting those goals will happen. One of the first steps toward that end will be a comprehensive diversity training program she and her staff will launch this fall.
"It's going to take a couple of years before we see significant changes. It has to be done department by department, and it doesn't happen overnight," she says.
"We have an opportunity to do better," she adds. "We may not see changes in six months, but in two years I expect to see significant changes."
Changes McGee won't make from behind a desk.