The Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Women’s Center and the Pride Center are moving from the Student Affairs division to the Equity and Community division.
The organizational change was made to support each office in a higher capacity and to a reach a wider audience around campus, stretching beyond just the undergraduate population. The change was a joint effort between the offices and Lehigh’s administration and will go into effect May 1.
Chelsea Fullerton, the director of the Pride Center, said she thinks the change was necessary for her office. As director, Fullerton improves programs and policies through the Pride Center and mentors students on how to spread inclusiveness around campus.
Fullerton said she believes the move shows the university’s dedication to support the work of her office and will benefit all offices to work at not only a student level but on an institutional one as well.
“I think that this is a positive move because it shows that the university values our work by elevating us to the position of more visibility,” Fullerton said.
Fullerton said the final decision was approved by herself, a task force providing recommendations and Donald Outing, the vice president of equity and community. Following the change, staff in the involved offices will report directly to Outing.
Evelynda Santos, the coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, said she agrees the change will be for the best.
“We can grow even more with the centers combined,” Santos said. “Whatever we can offer, the Women’s Center and the Pride Center, we have different resources and can build a community.”
She said the Office of Multicultural Affairs had not had a director or assistant director since January, and she didn’t know where it was going to be located. She had only heard rumors about a potential move but had been anticipating it for months.
Ian Birky, the interim vice provost for Student Affairs, said the reasoning behind the move was to promote more inclusion around Lehigh. The move would allow alumni, faculty and parents to become more involved in the programs.
“Before, the way it was positioned organizationally, it really was focused on students,” Birky said. “You know, it’s a service for students, the Pride Center, the Women’s Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. We want that, so that’s going to continue, but by moving it under the president now, it actually shoots it across the whole university.”
Women’s Center director Rita Jones said she believes the move could benefit in more gender equity across campus. She said the outreach to alumni, faculty and parents will increase the accessibility of the different offices.
“It is certainly beneficial,” Jones said. “It is necessary, I think, if gender equity is going to occur holistically at Lehigh, because right now with the Women’s Center, you can do a lot of work with gender equity for undergraduates, but that’s kind of the limitations of our scope.”