The university announced the Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, David M. Fryson, in an email sent by President Liebowitz. Fryson began in the position on July 12; his predecessor Mark Brimhall-Vargas departed from the role on July 23.
Fryson has practiced law for nearly 30 years in various legal settings and advocacy positions, according to the Diversity Equity and Inclusion page. He served as an attorney in many civil rights cases and other litigation cases. Fryson ran his own practice for many years, according to the email sent by Liebowitz.
Fryson was the first African American Chief Legal Official for two municipalities in West Virginia, according to the page. Before he became an attorney, Fryson worked on the Governor’s Economic Development staff for two West Virginia governors.
In 2014, Fryson was recognized as a West Virginia Bar Fellow, according to the West Virginia Bar Foundation’s page. This is awarded to layers whose professional and public careers show dedication to the welfare of their communities, according to the page. In 2015, Fryson earned the Certificate of Recognition from the West Virginia Governor’s Office and the WV Human Rights Commission, according to his page. Fryson also received a national Role Model Administrator Award from Minority Access, Incorporated in Washington D.C. In 2016.
During his career, Fryson also worked in higher education at West Virginia University (WVU) as Deputy General Counsel, according to the email. At WVU, he served as the founding Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from 2012 to 2017. He then served as Senior Advisor for Diversity Community Outreach to WVU’s president E. Gordon Gee until 2020, when he retired, according to his page.
According to Liebowitz, Fryson is very familiar with the management of programs and offices that help institutions become more inclusive, equitable and welcoming spaces. Liebowitz wrote in the email that he believes that Fryson’s expertise will be a valuable addition to the university’s community.
Fryson has worked with various issues of diversity in his life, according to his page. He worked as a partner at Kingdom Managements, which is a firm that delivers diversity and inclusion training and workshops. He also has worked on campaigns where he led statewide minority business ventures which helped develop minority businesses, according to the page. Fryson has been involved in civil rights organizations on the national, state and local level.
Fryson has also written for a statewide newspaper, appeared as a political commentator and has served as an ordained pastor for over 35 years, according to the page.
The university announced the departure of Brimhall-Vargas from the position in May, after he accepted a position at Fenway Health. Brimhall-Vargas joined the university in 2017 and founded the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, according to an email sent by Liebowitz in May.
Brimhall-Vargas has been involved in the creation of the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Ombuds and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He also worked with the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Intercultural Center on campus, according to the email.