Bridgewater College Diversity, Equity and Inclusion New Hires

Gauri Pitale and Anna Cho Welcomed into The DEI Department


Anna Cho/Gauri Pitale

On Monday, Oct. 19, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Student Leslie Frere announced via email that two positions within the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department have been filled. Anna Cho (left) has been hired as the new Assistant Director for diversity education and advocacy while Gauri Pitale (right) has been hired as the new associate dean for student’s diversity, equity and inclusion.

Katelyn Harrison, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Leslie Frere announced on Monday Oct. 19 that Gauri Pitale and Anna Cho have been hired as new members of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department. 

The DEI department has not been fully staffed for more than two months at a time over the past year, according to Frere. 

“By being fully staffed it gives us a lot more room to assist with things and have a presence in things that are strictly sort of ‘this is specifically the work that I do,’” said Frere. “They can inform the work of what other people are doing on campus.” 

Pitale has been hired as the associate dean of students for diversity, equity and inclusion. Her position is relatively new, as it was first created in 2018, according to Frere. 

“The role of the associate dean was created to provide a strategic perspective on diversity, equity and inclusion work on campus,” said Frere. 

The associate dean of DEI takes on the role of running the Eagle Success program and will provide a presence at the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (IDEA) Center located on campus at 112 College View St.

Pitale brings to BC experience in student affairs and is currently working in student success and retention. 

“She’s currently at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana,” said Frere. “Prior to that, she was at Southern Illinois University and she worked very heavily in student success and retention, so it’s interesting when you get faculty members who are also on the student success and retention side of things.” 

Pitale will also be bringing in a DEI perspective to the administrative staff on campus. 

“She also has an interesting perspective, because I think that our faculty would also really appreciate having someone who they can consider of the faculty to be able to talk with them about DEI work,” said Frere. 

Pitale will officially start in her new position as associate dean of students for diversity, equity and inclusion on Nov. 1, and her office will be located in the Student Life Suite. 

Cho has been hired as the assistant director for diversity education and advocacy. Her position will involve close work with students on campus related to DEI. 

“The assistant director position is that programming arm, is the boots on the ground, connecting with students,” said Frere 

The assistant director is the co-advisor for all culture related clubs and organizations on campus, including the Asian Student Association, the Black Student Association and BC Allies. 

Cho brings with her different experiences from across DEI related work beyond her academic experiences and education.

“I think what is interesting about what Anna is bringing in is that she also has a background in feminist studies and specific to LGBTQ work and she also I believe was an RA in her undergrad,” said Frere. “So I think anytime somebody has experience in residence life it provides them a unique perspective, I mean they’ve literally been in with students.” 

The experience with LGBTQ work is bringing a new perspective to the DEI position that has not previously existed, according to Frere. 

“And the LGBTQ piece is unique for her in that position… We haven’t had that area of emphasis on campus before,” said Frere. “So while it’s always been embedded in DEI work to have somebody who has been more seeped in that work then others, I think will be helpful.” 

Cho has officially started in her role of assistant director for diversity education and advocacy as of Monday, Oct. 18 and her office will be located in the Student Life Suite. 

Cho has started to meet some of the students she will be working with in her new role at BC. 

“I have met her and she is absolutely wonderful,” said junior Santia Fields. “I will be working with her in planning and assisting in diversity programming and future events on campus.”

Looking ahead, there are hopes for these new hires to further develop the DEI program at BC and to help foster a sense of belonging within the BC community, according to Frere. 

“Being able to continue that work is really important so that we can develop a strategic plan for DEI work on our campus, because currently we don’t have one,” said Frere. 

Along with further developing a plan for DEI work, with a fully staffed department there is hope for greater outreach for students. 

“We will be more involved on campus and I think we can make a bigger impact in diversity education and helping underrepresented students to reach their full potential,” said Fields. 

While both new hires are coming from larger universities, Frere says that they are eager to come to the BC community and have more one-on-one connection opportunities with students. 

“I think that was really appealing to both of them,” said Frere. “To be able to have an impact on a larger campus community that you don’t get to do when you’re at a large school.”