Recognizing the growing importance of providing all members of the West Virginia University community an open and inclusive atmosphere in which to learn, teach and interact, David M. Fryson has been elevated to vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, effective immediately. Since 2012, his title has been chief diversity officer; previously he served as the University’s deputy general counsel for 2 1/2 years.
“This is not simply a title change,” President Gordon Gee said in announcing the appointment Wednesday (July 2). “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act today, it is critical that we build on what’s been gained in the years since it became law as we continue to be an increasingly diverse nation.
“A diverse and inclusive campus is a strong campus, and WVU students will be better prepared for the world in which they live by learning in an environment that reflects that world,” Gee said. “Additionally, we want to ensure that all persons feel their intrinsic worth and make this University a welcoming place to learn, work and teach.”
As vice president, Fryson will provide leadership and oversight of WVU’s diversity efforts and the work to create and sustain an inclusive and supportive environment, presenting WVU and West Virginia to the nation as an emerging leader in all aspects of diversity and inclusion.
Fryson will direct the expanding Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion which currently has four major units: the Office of Diversity Initiatives, Office of Equity Assurance, Office of Accessibility and the Office of Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity. He will continue to serve as a member of Gee’s senior leadership team.
“President Gee recognizes the importance diversity, equity and inclusion plays in ensuring that West Virginia University is considered a premier institution for all students in our highly diverse nation as we also endeavor to attract an ever more diverse and distinguished faculty and staff,” Fryson said. “Our outreach will be to a national audience and I am honored to lead that effort.”
During his time at WVU, Fryson has helped bring the University’s attention and resources into play on a number of projects, most notably efforts to revitalize the West Side of Charleston, West Virginia’s capitol city, to overcome years of decline in the low-income neighborhood.
“We are planning to bring the intellectual resources and assets of WVU to the underrepresented and underserved communities within West Virginia in innovative and meaningful ways,” he said. “Charleston’s West Side Revive is the first of what we hope to be many efforts to broaden our land-grant mission throughout the state.”
A long-time champion of diversity and inclusiveness, prior to joining WVU, Fryson practiced law for more than 20 years in federal, state and private practice settings. In addition to operating his own law firm, he has practiced as an attorney for the Preiser law firm, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and as city attorney for two municipalities.
Fryson is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and was recently installed as a WV Bar Foundation Fellow. Has been active in community organizations ranging from serving as national vice president for OIC of America, founded by the legendary West Virginia native, the late Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan, to assisting grass roots organizations such as the Charleston OIC and NAACP, The Charleston Job Corps Center and West Virginia Multi-Fest. He also holds a gubernatorial appointment to the West Virginia Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, is a contributing columnist for The Charleston Gazette and an ordained pastor.
He earned an undergraduate degree from West Virginia State College, now University, where he was active in the marching band and served as band president. Fryson received a doctorate of jurisprudence from the WVU College of Law and served on the Moot Court Board and as president of the Black Law Students Association.
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