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OU holds first candidate meet-and-greet for diversity and inclusion vice president

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Dr. Robinette Kelley

Robinette Kelley, a candidate for vice president of diversity and inclusion, speaks to students in an open forum in the Walker Center storm shelter Sept. 18.

OU began meet-and-greet sessions with candidates for the position of vice president of diversity and inclusion on Wednesday.

Robinette Kelley, who most recently served as North Carolina State’s associate vice provost in the school’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, met with OU faculty and staff in the morning and participated in open forums with students and other community members in the afternoon.

Kelley expressed her desire to foster a campus culture that focused on diversity and inclusion at all times, not just after “incidents happen.” 

“I would really like to see Oklahoma look at diversity and inclusion as not this extra thing or this one-off thing,” Kelley said during the open forum. “I really do see the value in making diversity and inclusion an omnipresent thing ... something that is always part of the language and the action and activities that you do here on campus.”

Kelley also highlighted her experience working in diversity and inclusion and her goals for recruiting diverse students and staff. 

Several students, staff and faculty were in attendance for the 3:45 p.m. forum, including Jamelia Reed, an African and African American studies junior who is the co-director of OU’s Black Emergency Response Team. Reed said she felt Kelley was a strong candidate for the position.

“I think Dr. Kelley did very well,” Reed said. “She responds very well to students. She obviously has experience. ... If this is candidate one, I can’t wait to see what the other two candidates are. I’m very hopeful, very confident in their abilities as a search committee.”

Other students said they felt Kelley failed to cover some of the key topics for the university and lacked knowledge about subjects such as tribal relations. 

“While she’s a good speaker and a good candidate, I think that she didn’t really address a lot of the issues that needed to be addressed,” said biology pre-med sophomore Tahirah Naidu. “I didn’t feel like she was a really strong candidate because it really doesn’t seem like she’s knowledgeable about the Oklahoma community.”

The two other candidates for the position, Belinda Hyppolite and interim Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Jane Irungu, will visit the Norman campus over the next two weeks. Hyppolite will meet with Norman campus students, faculty and staff Sept. 23, and Irungu will meet with them Sept. 27.

Each candidate will subsequently visit with OU community members at the Health Sciences Center and OU-Tulsa campuses. More information on the candidates and their visit schedules can be found on OU's Human Resources website.

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