We are pleased to announce that Dr. Kathy Lechman has accepted an appointment and will return to CFAES to serve as our Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. As our former Assistant Dean, Dr. Lechman was successful in laying the groundwork to improve our DEI structure, and now brings new experiences and insights from her two years in the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.
In her appointment, we have someone familiar with our college and many of our people as well as someone aware of both the challenges and opportunities in making CFAES a more inclusive and equitable place. Dr. Lechman’s return will minimize any loss of momentum and provide quick stability to our CFAES DEI efforts. Dr. Lechman’s immediate charges will be to update her understanding of our college, assemble a diversity advisory council of faculty, staff and students, and outline and implement an internal audit of the college. Over her first year, she will be charged with coordinating the efforts in developing a blueprint for our DEI work.
Dr. Lechman is currently the Associate Director for the Kirwan Institute. Prior to that role, she served CFAES as Assistant Dean of Equity and Inclusion. Dr. Lechman earned her Ph.D. in 2015 from the College of Education and Human Ecology where her dissertation focused on examining the influence of student perception of instructor cultural intelligence, sense of belonging and intent to persist. Kathy has a Master of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution from the McGregor School of Antioch University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the College of Wooster. She has prior experience at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, the Ohio Department of Youth Services and the Cleveland Municipal Schools. She has served as the interim Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute and as an interim Associate Director of the Center for Higher Education Enterprise.
In considering next steps for CFAES DEI and the Assistant Dean position, we recognized continuing the momentum of our work in diversity, equity and inclusion was of utmost importance and that it required immediate and not deferred attention. We took time to process options regarding our next steps. Typically, we might look at an interim, however, we also recognized while interim leadership can be helpful and important, the inherent challenges of interim leadership during this time could have consequences to our momentum. Before moving to that option, we processed other options of individuals within the college and across campus who could keep us moving forward with our internal audit and other DEI initiatives with as little loss in momentum as possible.
We hope you will join us in welcoming Dr. Kathy Lechman back to CFAES and continuing our shared commitment to our DEI work. Her first day back at CFAES is Monday, October 19.