Renee Alexander '74, director of Diversity Alumni Programs in Alumni Affairs and Development since 2006, has been named to the new position of associate dean of students/director of intercultural programs, effective April 18.
This is one of three new high-level positions that will support underrepresented students and students of color. In her new role, Alexander will provide vision and leadership for initiatives to strengthen the sense of community among Cornell's increasingly diverse student body and help provide greater coordination among student-related programs and student groups. Alexander will report to the dean of students and will assume oversight responsibility for the student life components of cross-cultural and diversity programming.
Kent Hubbell '69, the Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students, said, "Renee brings extensive knowledge and experience to her new position as well as a comprehensive understanding of Cornell's history regarding matters of diversity. Perhaps most important, Renee is already an adviser and mentor to many student groups, and thus has a foundation upon which to build this new enterprise."
Before returning to Cornell in 2006, Alexander was director of special programs and initiatives at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts in New York City. In that role, she served as an adviser and advocate for underrepresented groups and as a liaison between students and administration.
"I am simply ecstatic," said Alexander. "I started my career in marketing, where I learned to engage people and build relationships, and then moved to higher education, where I discovered my passion for working with and developing students. This position brings these two parts of my life together." Alexander said that she will use the next six weeks to meet with students, faculty and administrators to lay the foundation for new relationships before the summer begins.
Alexander will temporarily occupy an office on the fourth floor of Willard Straight Hall. In August she will move to 626 Thurston Ave., which is being completely renovated and, when finished, will make it easier for students from the many cultural centers across campus and from college-specific programs to network with each other. Co-located in the facility will be the Asian/Asian American Center; the African Latino Asian Native American Students Programming Board; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center; and the Alumni-Student Mentoring Program.
"These already successful, vibrant program areas will function independently and collaboratively," Alexander said. "We will have great space for student meetings and functions. I look forward to creating a welcoming and inviting space for all students and expanding our intercultural dialogue across a multitude of perceived differences."
Much of Alexander's work will focus on -- but not be limited to -- supporting students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and low-income and first-generation college students, particularly in activities beyond the classroom. She will also be a visible resource and mentor for student organizations that represent students from groups historically underrepresented in graduate education.
Alexander will also serve as a liaison between the varied campus communities, including program houses, co-ops, fraternities and sororities, cultural student organizations, college advising and counseling offices, and she will work closely with two additional new positions: the associate vice provost for academic diversity initiatives and the Graduate School associate dean for inclusion and professional development.
Working with appropriate partners across campus, Alexander will provide leadership for student diversity initiatives and bring issues and recommendations to the dean of students and other university leaders. She will also work with staff and faculty members to increase their understanding of student diversity goals, opportunities and programs, and to foster engagement in student diversity programs.