History of the OU Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Following the aftermath of a nine-second video showing Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members singing a racist chant, the University of Oklahoma established an office tasked with fostering a climate of inclusion for all members of the OU community. The Office of University Community was established in fall of 2015. Since that time members of the team have worked to help improve the campus community. In 2019 a taskforce was formed to work on a strategic plan and to include voices of the entire OU community in the next iteration of the Office. Several recommendations were made by the taskforce; including the recommendation to make the leader of the office an Executive Officer position.
In spring of 2019 then Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. raised the leadership position to the Executive table and the University engaged in a national search to find the next leader for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The search ensued during the summer and into the fall semester to identify the long-term Vice President. Late in fall of 2019 Belinda Higgs Hyppolite was selected to lead the university in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In Spring of 2020 the Office was renamed the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. To this day, the office continues to work collaboratively with campus stakeholders to provide oversight and leadership around diversity, equity, and inclusion related programs and initiatives across all the OU campuses. Newly appointed President Harroz’s continues to affirm that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is his number one goal. He stated, “If we don’t get this right, nothing else matters.”
In January of 2020, Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, Ed.D., arrived and now serves as the Vice President of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Chief Diversity Officer. The three pillars that the office currently focuses on are: advocacy, education, and awareness. These pillars help to guide the campus around the DEI efforts and is meant to assist in fostering a more inclusive OU community that promotes a sense of belonging for all members, and celebrate you, no matter who you are and where you come from!