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OU Announces Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Appointment

OU Announces Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Appointment

October 18, 2019

The University of Oklahoma announced the appointment of Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, Ed.D. as vice president of diversity and inclusion, pending OU Board of Regents’ approval.

The University of Oklahoma announced today the appointment of Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, Ed.D. as vice president of diversity and inclusion, pending OU Board of Regents’ approval.

Hyppolite currently serves as assistant vice president for student development and enrollment services at the University of Central Florida. Hyppolite will join the OU community in January 2020.

“Creating and sustaining a culture of inclusivity and equity at OU strikes at the very core of our humanity and is central to the continuation of our democracy,” said OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. “It is our top priority and we are addressing it boldly, honestly and with clear eyes. Dr. Hyppolite’s extensive experience in diversity and inclusion work positions us to build upon OU’s great momentum and the progress we have enjoyed the past several months.”

A nationwide search for OU’s vice president for diversity and inclusion began earlier this year and the search yielded a substantial and highly qualified collective of candidates. OU students, staff and faculty had the opportunity to meet the three finalists for the position and provide feedback.

Hyppolite has more than two decades of experience in higher education and holds a number of certifications related to the implementation of higher education diversity and inclusion efforts. She has published extensive writings on the subject. She completed her undergraduate work at Southwest Missouri State University and earned her master’s degrees in counseling education and human resources from Western Illinois University. She earned a doctoral degree in education from Concordia University with a specialization in professional leadership, inquiry, and transformation.

Harroz expressed immense gratitude for Interim Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Jane Irungu, Ph.D., noting that her invaluable leadership and ardent commitment to OU will have a long-lasting impact. In her time as interim vice president, Irungu led the University in enacting substantive structural changes. A few of those include:

  • Renamed the Office of University Community to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and elevated the leadership role to Executive Officer status with oversight of more than 40 college and departmental diversity officers
  • Achieved financial and organizational soundness for the Office
  • Outlined and began implementing a clear, multiphase plan that addresses real needs and demands hard outcomes
  • Established the Bias Response Committee to systematically deal with reports of bias and discrimination across all campuses
  • Initiated multiple partnerships with colleges and departments to improve classroom engagement and pedagogies
  • Hosted summits and community conversations with constituencies across all three campuses, establishing working groups dedicated to carrying out the plan’s work
  • Worked collaboratively with the Diversity and Inclusivity Council to conclude a strategic planning process that had been ongoing for two years
  • Increased education and training for faculty, staff and students on matters of diversity and inclusion
  • Launched the #WeAre Campaign
  • Restructured the First-Year Diversity Experience
  • Established Employee Resource Groups to help build community for faculty and staff
  • Dedicated physical space for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Launched a web presence devoted to tracking real results of the plan’s implementation
  • Centered the inaugural Presidential Speakers Series Dinner on the theme of race and equity, which helped kickstart a week of events dedicated to honoring OU’s civil rights history and leaders 
  • Partnered with student leadership in a number of organizations – such as the Multicultural Advancement Committee – to ensure student voices are amplified and heard

“Dr. Irungu has helped establish a critical foundation for the OU community as we move forward in our pursuit of a more diverse and inclusive University,” said Harroz. “She is an invaluable presence and we are fortunate to have had her at the helm leading and guiding our efforts.”

For more information on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion visit: