September 19, 2008

Minority Affairs Office Gets New Director

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The Office of Minority Educational Affairs recently hired Mojisola Olaniyan as its new executive director, replacing former director Raymond Dalton, who stepped down at the end of June.
Olaniyan comes to Cornell from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, where she served as assistant dean for the Academic Advancement Program in the College of Letters and Science.
The executive director of the OMEA reports directly to Michele Moody-Adams, vice provost of undergraduate education. Moody-Adams praised Olaniyan’s successful career in higher education.
“We worked very hard to bring her to Cornell precisely because of her accomplishments and expertise. Incredibly, though, she has been in the job for only four weeks, she has already begun to design and implement innovative and promising programs to promote student success,” she said.
According to its website, the OMEA “facilitates academic and personal adjustment to Cornell, and increases the graduation rate of students. It also encourages institutional change, when necessary, to ensure that the University embraces its diverse student population.”
Moody-Adams acknowledged that in the past, the efforts to reach out to minority communities “were, perhaps, not sufficiently well-structured or well-publicized. We also acknowledge that the office can do much more in this area than it had been doing.”
She explained that Olaniyan’s plans will include a “focus on enhancing OMEA’s connections to, and support for, a broader range of minority students.”
Olaniyan will have her work cut out for her in helping to increase minority enrollment. Recent statistics provided by the University indicate that African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic-American students comprise a smaller percentage of the freshman class than the sophomore and junior classes.
But Moody-Adams stated in an e-mail that “What OMEA does actually involves serving non-minority students as well, through the New York State Higher Education Opportunity Programs administered by the office.”
She added, “Those programs are open to certain students, of any ethnic background, from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, or who are first generation college students. New York State law opens those special programs up to students of varied backgrounds.”
Olaniyan was unavailable for comment.