Donald Outing, the Vice President for Equity and Community at Lehigh has been instrumental in creating a new position, Director of student access and success. The new director will report to Outing and work alongside The Pride Center, The Center for Multicultural Affairs, and the Center for Gender Equity to ease the transition to college for first generation and minority students. (Tulani Bey/B&W Staff)

New Director of Student Access and Success position to pave way for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity office

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Lehigh’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion recently created a position called the director of student access and Success, which is meant to help first-generation and minority college students so that all students on campus have the same opportunities. While the position remains vacant for the time being, many faculty members on campus look forward to seeing this spot filled. 

Dr. Donald Outing, the vice president for equity and community, was a primary leader in creating this position, and he supervised the hiring process. The new director will report to him, as well as work alongside the directors of the Pride Center, the Center for Multicultural Affairs and the Center for Gender Equity.

“(The director) would be expected to work collaboratively with these center directors, in our efforts to be a more inclusive community,” Outing said. “I see these directors as our front line commanders.”

Donnie Roberts, the assistant director of student access and success, voiced similar sentiments.

“This is a huge job, it really is. It’s fun,” Roberts said. “What I’m looking forward to the most, is that this office is relatively new and that this is a really new initiative throughout the country.”

Through this new office, Roberts will try to reach more students, especially first-generation college students, and educate them about the opportunities on campus. 

“I hope that this office becomes the model for other universities for access and success,” Roberts said. “This is a top-notch university. Why can we not be the charge?” 

The Pride Center is one of the many programs that will be working closely with the new director. Scott Burden, the associate director of the Pride Center, expressed his excitement to be working with this new leader on campus. 

“I am really excited for the position, because I feel like within Lehigh—and really, nationally—there is an emergence of a new college student population,” Burden said. “With this position, there is an eye towards the future and an eye towards the present, as to how they are supporting first-generation students.” 

Burden is excited about the transition of leadership, as well as an increase in staff in the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Office. He is appreciative of how Lehigh is making an effort in this regard. 

While the new director has not been named yet, the role is already making waves in the community. Roberts said he is excited about the future and Lehigh’s progression. 

Outing said this is a step in the right direction for the community as Lehigh students learn to combat hate and intolerance on campus.

“This is hopefully a good sign as we see more people standing up against this bad behavior, for lack of a better term,” Outing said. 

As of right now, an offer has been made, and Outing is waiting for a response. He expects to hear back within the next couple of weeks. 

The new director will be announced sometime before the beginning of the spring semester. 

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