Gov. Ralph Northam’s latest slate of appointments includes the University of Lynchburg’s Dr. Robert Canida II, vice president for inclusive excellence. Canida was appointed to Northam’s library board last week.
“My great-grandmother taught me that one of life’s greatest duties is to serve,” Canida said in response to the news. “She also taught me that charity begins at home. Therefore, I count it all joy to serve locally and nationally.”
Serving the commonwealth in this capacity is a “distinguished honor,” he added. “Having this distinct privilege and responsibility will allow me to ensure that Virginia’s libraries are equitable, inclusive, and diverse across a number of perspectives for all.
“I want every Virginian to feel a sense of belonging when they walk in a library or virtually access the vast resources. Knowledge is power and it begins in our state’s libraries.”
Lynchburg President Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar was just as thrilled. “Dr. Canida has done a fantastic job serving the Lynchburg campus community and our city with his expertise, and I’m delighted to see him appointed to this important role,” she said. “We’re so very proud to have another University of Lynchburg representative serve the commonwealth.”
In 2018, Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Gerald Prante was named to Northam’s joint advisory board of economists. In 2020, Dr. Jeremy Welsh, dean of the School of PA Medicine and senior associate dean of the College of Health Sciences, was named to Northam’s task force on primary care.
Library of Virginia Board members are appointed for five-year terms. The library board is a policy board that, according to its website, “determines the scope of the library’s collection, establishes policy concerning what books are kept, housed, or exhibited by the state library, promotes education in the area of history and library and archival science in the commonwealth, and enters into agreements with institutions and organizations with similar purposes.”
Canida first came to the University of Lynchburg as its diversity and inclusion officer. When Morrison-Shetlar took office in August 2020, she promoted Canida to vice president for inclusive excellence. Since then, Canida has undertaken a number of initiatives, including a series of Courageous Conversations, both in person and virtually, to bring people together on topics that can be difficult to discuss.
He’s also heading the president’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and secured funding for a comprehensive DEI audit. As part of the Home for Hornets project, the Office of Equity and Inclusion partnered with three external organizations on a campuswide survey and focus groups this past winter and spring, setting the stage for DEI workshops in the 2021-22 academic year and beyond.
One of these partners is the National Coalition Building Institute, an international leadership organization that provides DEI educational sessions to support long-term institutional and social change. In March, Lynchburg became an NCBI Campus Affiliate.
“When my life’s journey landed me in Lynchburg, I knew that service was going to be a very important aspect of my work,” Canida said. “Serving the various University of Lynchburg stakeholders through diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with the local community, has been so rewarding. Changing lives has been my ultimate purpose.”