May 5, 2021

Dear Friends,

Over the last several months, teams across the University of Oklahoma have been working to better align programs and services to improve recruitment, retention, and resourcefulness for students, faculty, and staff. As part of this effort, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is expanding into the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

This expansion will allow us to meet the growing needs of our campus community, particularly our efforts to prepare students for a life of success, meaning, service, and positive impact; to help make OU affordable and attainable; and to continue our pursuit of becoming a place of belonging and emotional growth for all.

Through the transition from office to division, we are excited to welcome more than 20 OU employees and 15 student employees from the Accessibility and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), the Inclusion Council, and the TRiO Programs – Project Threshold, McNair Scholars, and Upward Bound – to our team. Parts of this organizational transition have already begun, with all budgets transitioning to the DEI Division at the beginning of the FY2022 fiscal year (July 1, 2021). For the time being, these areas will remain in their current physical locations while spacing needs are assessed.  

Under the leadership of Chelle’ Guttery, Ph.D., the ADRC provides resources, digital accessibility, and accommodations on all three campuses for students, faculty, and staff with a disability. The ADRC follows federal, state, and university guidelines related to ADA accommodations. OU views people with disabilities as an integral part of the rich diversity at OU, and we will continue to advance inclusion by working more strategically to meet the growing needs of the university community.

The Inclusion Council, whose members serve as diversity liaisons across all three campuses, will continue working to ensure strategies are realized and carried out. Liaisons will connect monthly and collaborate with colleges, administrative areas, and non-academic departments to develop and implement strategic initiatives.

OU’s TRiO Programs assist aspiring college students, enrolled first-generation students (neither mother nor father has a bachelor’s degree), low-income students (usually PELL-eligible), and students with a documented disability (registered with the ADRC). These programs provide exposure to campus resources, offer academic support, life coaching, growth opportunities, and other resources to enhance life skills and academic excellence.

Project Threshold, under the direction of Deborah Binkley-Jackson, works to increase retention and graduation rates of program participants. The entire team is committed to ensuring every student admitted into the program is provided the best quality academic support.

Sophia Morren, Ph.D., guides OU McNair Scholars. The McNair program provides encouragement, guidance, and mentorship to underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation college students to pursue graduate school. The program collaborates with faculty, staff, and national and international partners to provide a range of graduate school preparation programs and services. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of initiatives designed to increase their awareness and knowledge of the graduate school application process, graduate school funding, summer research programs, and fellowship opportunities.

Upward Bound is led by director Quentin Dixon. The goal of Upward Bound is for students to complete high school and attend a post-secondary college or university. For over 50 years, Upward Bound programs have provided students from first-generation, low-income, and ultimately underprivileged backgrounds with education and opportunities. Upward Bound programs offer these services to students through academic and summer programs free of charge. In addition, students can earn a stipend through their participation and attendance. The Summer Academic Institute is held on the OU Norman campus in June and July for six weeks. 

OU’s collective efforts to truly change lives must focus on creating a culture where all community members can achieve success. The new division will offer high-quality outreach and engagement opportunities, provide resources, and offer workshops, training, and development opportunities on various topics, consultations, and more. As OU continues to implement our new Strategic Plan, we will continue to bring areas together for the greatest impact.  


Belinda Hyppolite

Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, Ed.D.


Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer

Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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