Lehigh welcomed Tamara Redfern as the new associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs this year.
Redfern accepted the position over the summer and has been officially working at Lehigh since late August.
Redfern was previously the program director and student facilitator for the Keystone Education Yields Success Program at Lehigh Carbon Community College.
She said she lived abroad for the majority of her adult life — until 2018 — and was ecstatic to be selected for the position.
“I have experienced the importance of appreciating and accepting a multicultural mindset when it comes to education,” Redfern said.
Jenn Ocampo-Castaneda, an ambassador for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said Redfern’s background in teaching abroad has been helpful in her smooth transition into Lehigh.
“It allowed her to really have an idea and understanding of different people’s backgrounds and the way they come into Lehigh,” Ocampo-Castaneda said.
As the associate director for the office, Redfern said she has many responsibilities around campus.
She said the position involves developing leadership advising for underrepresented students and multicultural student organizations, in addition to working with faculty to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into curricula.
Redfern said she is also involved in Lehigh’s retention efforts related to underrepresented student populations and first-generation students by providing academic and other types of support.
Ray Campbell, ‘23, works as an ambassador for the office and said he works closely with Redfern. They conduct weekly meetings together and regularly interact during Campbell’s shifts.
“She definitely brings a new perspective and background to the (Office of Multicultural Affairs),” Campbell said. “Her being a Black Muslim woman is something that is new and fresh to this position.”
Campbell said the previous associate director, Clara Buie, left before the spring semester of last year.
“To have that position (filled) again with someone that is closely interacting with the students and different student groups is really good to have back on campus,” Campbell said.
Redfern said the students she interacts with on campus have been sincerely welcoming and caring, helping her to understand their needs.
Ocampo-Castaneda said it is refreshing to have someone like Redfern in a leadership position because she is constantly interacting with students.
“I’ve come in and she’s just talking to someone that just decided to hang out in our office,” Ocampo-Castaneda said. “So it has been really nice to just have her presence there.”
This year, Redfern wants to work on creating ways to help Lehigh become a more inclusive community.
“My hope for (the Office of Multicultural Affairs) is to further develop it in a way that breaks down walls and builds bridges to understanding and embracing an inclusive and multicultural environment,” Redfern said.