Following a four-month national search, Rowland Hall is excited to announce that Dr. Chandani Patel will take the reins on July 1 as our first director of equity and inclusion.
Dr. Chandani (pronounced ChAHn-dhuh-nee) Patel has spent the last 10 years advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives across a number of institutions. For the past 18 months, she has served as the director for global diversity education for New York University (NYU), where she provides strategic direction and works with faculty on curriculum and instruction that is centered in DEI. Before that, she was senior assistant director at Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, where she developed pedagogical workshops and online resources to support instructors in creating inclusive classroom spaces.
“I believe deeply in relationship building across a community,” Dr. Patel said. “I look forward to being part of a community where all voices are represented so that we can work towards building an inclusive teaching and learning environment for all students, faculty, staff, and families.”
Dr. Patel has taught and written extensively on how concepts of race, identity, and belonging shift across places, languages, and cultures. She holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, where she studied comparative literature with a focus on South Asian and African literatures. She also holds a BA in comparative literature and an MA in humanities and social thought, both from NYU.
Our search for a director of equity and inclusion began in mid-November, following the announcement of a $2.4 million donation from the Cumming Family Foundation to create the first endowed position in school history. Former head of school Alan Sparrow, who retired last June, worked closely with the Cumming family to articulate our DEI vision and secure the gift, which ensures we have a permanent, full-time leader to guide us in this important work. At a time when pivotal conversations about racial justice are occurring across the nation, we’re so grateful to the Cummings for their generosity and leadership. Their gift supports our core value of welcoming everyone, elevates our institutional commitment to DEI, and sets a precedent for schools in Utah and beyond.
Rowland Hall is forever grateful for the Cumming Family Foundation's $2.4 million gift to create the school's first endowed role, ensuring we have a permanent leader to guide us in this important work.
To ensure an effective search, Rowland Hall partnered with StratéGenius, a Berkeley-based firm with extensive experience cultivating, recruiting, and placing educators in DEI leadership positions at independent schools. Indeed, the process moved along efficiently and transparently: by the first week of March, school community members had a chance to virtually chat with and provide feedback on three finalists. According to our search committee—co-chaired by Head of School Mick Gee and Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman—Dr. Patel rose to the top for our community due to her expertise, professionalism, sincere approachability, and willingness to dig deep in this important role.
“The search committee was drawn to Chandani’s focus on building communities of belonging where members feel safe to learn and grow together,” Mick said. Dr. Patel, in turn, said she’s excited to discover areas of growth within Rowland Hall where she can center equity in conversations and support inclusive dialogue.
Dr. Patel will relocate to Salt Lake City this summer with husband Brady Smith, daughter Aashna (age 4), and dog Maddy. Chandani’s parents, Vaishali and Sanjay, will also be relocating to the area. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Patel and her family to Rowland Hall!
Equity & Inclusion