When Jamie Chidozie leaves her role as director of Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice next week, she knows her work will be left in capable hands.
Chiquita Loveless, currently UNI’s director for military and veteran student services, will step into Chidozie’s role as interim director, bringing not only the experience from her award-winning work with campus veterans, but also 23 years of experience in the Navy, where she worked as chief diversity officer on a ship with 4,000 people and traveled the world to work to ensure sailors from different ethnic backgrounds felt respected and accepted.
“Chiquita is not new to the field of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Chidozie, pictured below, whose office works to advance inclusion and social justice through advocacy and support of underrepresented and marginalized students. “We have a seasoned diversity, equity and inclusion person stepping into this role, and I think she’s the right person to re-engage with students coming out of this pandemic.”
On Loveless’ first ship, the USS Boxer, she was the communications chief, as well as the chief diversity officer and reported directly to the captain to assist with diversity issues. When she rose to Chief Petty Officer, she was the first Black non-commissioned officer on the ship.
Loveless is also a member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, which strives to lead higher education toward inclusive excellence, and continues to work toward a Diversity and Inclusion for Organizational Excellence Certificate from Stanford Graduate School of Business..
“I’m here to fight the good fight and do the great work that needs to be done,” Loveless said. “My heart, in regards to diversity, equity and inclusion, is to make sure students feel like they belong here so they can focus on attaining their degree.”
Loveless said her first priority will be to ensure a seamless and transparent transition to her new role, to meet more students and explore a community partnership to encourage young female students to pursue STEM studies.
“I want to let everyone know that, regardless of your ethnicity, you’re welcome in the CME,” Loveless said.
And as the campus plans to fully open up once again in the fall, Loveless will oversee an effort by campus staff to re-energize diversity and social justice work at UNI. Plans are in the works for welcome back barbecues, open houses and block parties.
“It’s going to be grand,” Chidozie said. “We look forward to celebrating the Black Student Union’s 50th anniversary and continue to celebrate the CME.”
Chiquita, who grew up in Chicago, arrived on campus in 2018 to step into the role of director for military and veteran student services. As a leader amongst veterans on campus, she serves as an ally and advisor to student veterans.
Loveless’ work, along with her predecessors in the Veteran Center, has helped UNI be selected by G.I. Jobs Magazine as a Military Friendly School, an honor placing the university in the top 20% of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military service members, veterans, spouses, and dependents as students to ensure their success on campus. UNI has also been listed among U.S. News & World Report's top College for Veterans.
UNI was also recently elevated from bronze to silver status — meaning it’s in the top 20 percent of universities nationally — for its programs welcoming veterans. And Loveless herself was named as the Military Hero for MercyOne’s 2021 Heroes Among Us, an annual initiative that honors community leaders. Loveless was honored for her commitment in support of improving conditions for veterans on campus and in the community.
As director of military and veteran student services, Loveless was a main point of contact for military and veteran students at UNI. She helped connect students to resources to help them transition from military life to student life, and to help with other unique concerns these students face, and at times just provided a listening ear. This often involved her taking extra time to talk one-on-one with students, or sharing her experience working as a Chief Warrant Officer in the Navy.