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11/10/2015 01:13 pm ET Updated Nov 10, 2015

Mizzou Names First Person To Take Chief Diversity Officer Job

Adding the position is part of the school's effort to address racism on campus.
Michael B. Thomas via Getty Images

The University of Missouri has named Chuck Henson, an associate dean in the School of Law, as its interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, the school announced Tuesday in a campuswide email.

The vice chancellor role was one of several efforts introduced last month to improve the racial climate on campus. Other such initiatives include mandatory diversity training for students and staff, starting in January.

Chuck Henson is a law professor who will now lead the university's diversity efforts.
University of Missouri
Chuck Henson is a law professor who will now lead the university's diversity efforts.

Henson, the university noted, has a background studying civil rights law and discrimination, and had previously worked in the office of the Missouri attorney general. 

Following the protests in Ferguson, Henson has given talks on campus about the legal realities of racial profiling by police. When a U.S. Department of Justice report found racist behavior among Ferguson police officers, Henson told students the information "should shock you and make you mad as hell."

In September 2014, he wrote about the Ferguson events in a historical context, noting that racial inequality and profiling was the result of systemic issues.

"The perennial issues remain the lack of shared authority and property and their symbolic racial exclusivity," Henson said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Those who are blind to these issues have never been concerned about their place in American society."

Student activists have been pressuring the university to address incidents that have occurred on campus this semester, including racial epithets being directed at the student government president and a black student group. 

Diversity officers have increasingly become more common on college campuses nationwide. The University of Oklahoma made a similar hire in April following a high-profile incident involving a fraternity singing racial slurs. 

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Tyler Kingkade covers higher education and is based in New York. You can contact him at tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com, or on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.

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