When It Comes to Inclusion, Ohio State’s Lee All In - Higher Education: Dr. Valerie Lee is determined to make diversity a verb, not just a noun.
As chief diversity officer, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and vice president for outreach and engagement at Ohio State University, Lee manages one of the largest — if not the largest — diversity departments in all of higher education with more than 88 full-time staff members. As part of her commitment to total inclusion, Lee has a comprehensive strategy to move to a “one university model,” moving students, staff and faculty “from silos to solidarity.”
She recently championed to have her department, along with the university’s Black cultural center, moved into a historical building on campus, signaling that university officials are increasingly recognizing the importance of her work. Her goal is to develop the center into the world’s best cultural center, something she says “is really within our grasp.”
Before Lee became an advocate for equal opportunity at Ohio State, she was hit with her own share of adversity. Despite graduating at the top of her high school class, Lee was told that she could not serve as valedictorian because she was Black.