Jame'l Hodges, the coordinator of Residential Education and Leadership at California Polytechnic University–Pomona, was named Lehigh’s new director of Multicultural Affairs
. His appointment is the culmination of a national search following the late-April resignation of John McKnight, who accepted the position of assistant dean at Lafayette College.
Hodges officially steps into the new role in late July.
“I hope students will find me approachable, creative, challenging and supportive,” said Hodges, who is intent in building collaborative relationships within the university and beyond.
“I am excited about the opportunity to work with such a dynamic student, faculty and staff population,” he said. “I’ve been impressed by Lehigh's commitment to equitable education and development of the whole student, both in and out of the classroom, and truly preparing students for their lives beyond Lehigh. That was evident in my interaction with the students on my campus interview. I felt very comfortable with the Lehigh community.”
During the interview process, Hodges and other candidates were charged with presenting their view of multiculturalism—a process that provided Hodges with a deeper sense of the campus climate and culture, he said.
“It also gave those present the opportunity to get to know my presentation style, and my areas of focus,” he said. “I hope to bring a sense of community amongst all populations of students and am going to work toward strengthening and enhancing the already impressive student club and organization programs on our campus.”
Hodges is a graduate of Virginia State University, where he received his bachelor of arts in English/Mass Communication, and Florida State University, where he received a master of science in Higher Education Administration. This past May, he completed his doctoral studies at the University of Southern California. He expects to defend his dissertation in early fall.
Prior to his role at Cal Poly-Pomona, Hodges worked as a language arts teacher in the City of Baltimore’s public school system, an admissions officer at Morgan State University, a student affairs counselor and an advisor to the national Panhellenic Council at the University of Georgia.
"Ability to make instant connections"
Allison Gulati, associate dean of Campus Involvement and Leadership who chaired the search committee, said her department is excited to have Hodges apply his skills and experience at Lehigh.
“Having been in higher education and student affairs for the past seven years, Jame'l brings experiences and skills related to multiculturalism and social justice, residence life, admissions, fraternity and sorority life, with a strong focus on working with culturally and socially-based chapters,” she said.
Uhuru Aseto, a graduate student in the College of Education, also noted Hodges’ demonstrated enthusiasm for his work.
“He has an ability to make instant connections with students, and with people in general,” he said. “I believe he’ll make a significant impact on student life here at Lehigh in many different aspects, and I look forward to working with him. I think I can speak for everyone in our committee as well as our office by saying we are excited to have Jame'l at Lehigh.”
Sharon Basso, associate vice provost and dean of students, commended the search committee for their thorough evaluation of candidates for the position.
“They did an outstanding job,” she said of the committee members, noting the significance of a balanced panel. “It was critical to have the voices of student, faculty and administrators all represented prominently on the committee and throughout the interview process. We are grateful for the time they all committed to this search.”
In addition to Gulati and Aseto, members of the search committee also included Seth Goren, director of Jewish Student Life; Michelle Issadore, assistant director of the Women's Center; Kashi Johnson, professor in the department of theatre; Lori McClaind, assistant dean for the Office of the First-Year Experience; and Tina Richardson, professor of education and human services, and undergrad student Karl Brisseaux ’11.