Lehigh University in Bethlehem has announced the hiring of its first chief diversity officer.
Donald Outing, previously the chief of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, began the post last month.
At West Point, Outing was the academy’s senior leader in coordinating efforts to create a more diverse environment. He developed and implemented the USMA diversity and inclusion strategic plan and created an integrated assessment process that allows senior leadership to measure effectiveness.
Jennifer Swann, a Lehigh biology professor and member of the search committee, as well as a member of Lehigh’s Council for Equity and Community, said it was Outing’s work at West Point that really set him up as the perfect person for the job.
“At West Point, he was able to promote several issues of diversity and inclusion at the school,” Swan said.
She said the search committee appreciated the difficulty in navigating in that sort of military school environment, rife with regulations and constraints.
“We have a lot more freedom here,” she said.
Swan said she believes Lehigh has been doing a good job on diversity and inclusiveness issues but has been held back by that everyone who sits on the Council for Equity and Community has other functions at the school, sometimes several.
“We get a lot done when we meet,” she said. However, with their time constraints, sometimes it’s difficult to retain momentum.
“He will help keep us on track,” she said.
In the post, Outing will be the senior administrator responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive plan to enhance and continue to build on Lehigh’s efforts.
He will coordinate with university administration, deans, department heads, trustees and a variety of groups and people already engaged with diversity and inclusion.
Lehigh President John Simon said he believes Outing’s work in the newly created post will have an immediate, positive impact at the school.
“With the addition of Donald Outing to the university leadership team, we will have one individual focused solely on leading and coordinating all our efforts to create a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming campus environment. I look forward to working with him to advance our efforts,” he said in a news release.