From: Ozarks First
Ozarks Technical Community College hits a milestone, recently hiring its first director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Diverse students make up 18% of OTC’s student body, and the college hopes this move will help people feel more welcome.
The director of diversity has three goals — every student gets a high-quality education, have a diverse staff and to be more involved in the community.
Meet Daniel Ogunyemi, the first director of diversity, equity and inclusion or DEI, in OTC history.
“It feels humbling. It feels exciting. It feels scary. All of the above,” Ogunyemi said. “But, I’m super, super excited about the opportunity to lead this charge and hopefully build something that will sustain me far and beyond.”
He worked in DEI at Burrell Behavioral Health, helping create programs to give diverse groups more access to mental health services.
“So finding where those gaps existed and kind of blazing that trail there,” Ogunyemi said. “That’s the same thing I hope to do here at OTC is find those gaps but lay a solid foundation for how we can grow in efforts to make sure individuals can come here and feel like they belong.”
“As a 59-year-old white Anglo-Saxon Protestant male, I can’t see the same thing that someone else sees,” Dr. Hal Higdon the OTC Chancellor said. “We have to be able to use different lenses. We will depend on Daniel to help us see that through in a lens that makes sure we have no institutional barriers or even cultural barriers for people to feel welcome.”
Higdon says considering his school is Missouri’s lowest-funded community college, the fact that he still went through with this hire should tell you something.
“Every other college and university in the state is funded better than we are,” Higdon said. “So we are the least able to afford it, yet we’ll be one of the first ones with it. And that shows how much priority we are putting on this position. It’s a very important decision.”