A fast-talker from Mississippi introduced himself simply as “Dr. O,” the University’s candidate for the new associate provost of diversity and inclusion, made his first impressions on students and employees Aug. 26.
A closed forum for students and an open forum for employees were held for the associate provost search committee to hear campus input on their candidate for the position, Ade Oredein.
The creation of the position brings diversity and inclusion under the umbrella of the Provost’s Office. Diane Hargrave, executive secretary to the provost, said equity is now under Student Affairs alongside Title IX.
According to a newsletter sent out by University President John Jasinski, bringing DEI under the Provost’s Office is an effort to decrease the gap in retention and graduation rates between majority and minority students.
“Institutions are under increased scrutiny for having a lack of clear metrics and academic accountability for actions,” according to the newsletter. “Our new alignment and reallocation for an associate provost of DEI will focus on academic support for underrepresented students with metrics for the unit centered on retention and graduation.”
Oredein has been an administrator in higher education for more than 10 years, according to Northwest’s invite to the open forum, and was previously an associate dean of students, director of diversity and inclusion and coordinator of international student affairs at Owensboro Community and Technical College in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Before that, Oredein worked in enrollment management at Alcorn State University and Oglala Lakota College and was the director of the Center for Diversity and Community – Student Success at the University of South Dakota.
Oredein’s emphasis throughout the open forum was getting to know the campus and community. He said knowing the population is the first step to establishing any programs or change.
“I’ve learned the hard way, you know your audience, you know your community, you know your climate before we start anything,” Oredein said.
Oredein also focused on how diverse marketing is key to drawing in and creating a welcoming environment for underrepresented students.
He said traditional marketing methods often don’t reach underrepresented students, especially non-white populations. Additionally, he said fostering a welcoming environment on campus creates a good reputation for the University in minority communities and encourages them to come.
“The LGBTQIA+ community can recruit itself if we get things right on campus,” Oredein said. “You don’t actually have to recruit them; they recruit themselves.”
Oredein said he wanted to come to Northwest because it’s in a small town in a rural community, which reminds him of where he grew up.
“I’m a country guy,” Oredein said. “I always thought I wanted to get away from the rural, and I got to go to the city and I thought it was great, but I’m a country guy, and I wanted to get back to my roots and what I know and my comfort zone.”