Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray has named Charlene Alexander to serve as the chief diversity officer and a vice president for the university.
Alexander, associate provost for diversity at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, will start at OSU on June 30. She will succeed Angela Batista, who has served as OSU’s interim chief diversity officer and vice president since February 2016.
“I created this position to oversee institutional change and strategic initiatives to help advance Oregon State University as a community characterized in all we do by inclusive excellence,” Ray said. “I’m thrilled that Charlene will bring her talents and capabilities to Oregon State.”
Alexander will be responsible for guiding institutional diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice throughout the university, Ray said. She will report directly to the president.
“I am very honored to be the first permanent vice president and chief diversity officer at such an incredible institution,” Alexander said. “OSU is deeply committed to its students, faculty and staff and I look forward to building on the excellent work already underway at the university.
“I am very impressed with the faculty, staff and students whom I met during my visit to OSU. I think the university has a really great foundation to build on, and I sincerely appreciate OSU’s commitment to doing this right, to ensuring that diversity, inclusion and social justice are at the heart of the university.”
Alexander has served for nearly four years as Ball State’s associate provost for diversity and director of the university’s Office of Institutional Diversity. In her 20th year at Ball State, she is also the interim associate vice president for community engagement.
Under Alexander’s leadership, Ball State established its first Diversity Advisory Committee which in turn developed the university’s first Diversity Strategic Plan.
Before becoming associate provost, Alexander directed the School Counseling Program in the Department of Counseling Psychology, where she has been on the faculty since 1997. Her history of leading diversity and inclusion initiatives dates to 1990, when she was a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Alexander earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s in counseling and guidance from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She received a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Alexander said her “conversations with President Ray really were what sold me on this opportunity; his vision and goal of increasing diversity confirmed my understanding of the university’s commitment.”
“He is absolutely someone I want to work for – so self-reflecting and so understanding of this important mission. And I enjoyed my meetings with so many wonderful people throughout my visit to campus.”
Alexander sees Oregon State as a “destination” university.
“I feel that about the campus and about the community, and I look forward to working with the many groups on campus as partners,” she said. “I appreciate that there are seven cultural centers, six of them free standing, architecturally unique symbols and wonderful examples of commitment to culture.”
Alexander’s long-term vision for Oregon State is that, “Any visitor to the university can ask anyone on campus if diversity and inclusion and social justice really are important at Oregon State, and no matter who they speak to, they’ll receive a look of astonishment and the answer will be, ‘Yes, of course they’re important.’
“The folks that I’ve met are all eager to get started,” she said. “In my opinion, all the right ingredients are in place to move forward with our diversity efforts, and I’m ready to be part of that culture and to take on this new responsibility.”
Alexander grew up in Trinidad, West Indies, and completed her advance level studies at Rye St Antony in Oxford, England. She enjoys dancing and the outdoors.
“Don’t be surprised to see me joining in wherever dancing is occurring,” Alexander said.
~ Steve Lundeberg