Valerie Lee Tapped to Head Ohio State's Outreach and Engagement Efforts

Portrait of Valerie Lee

Move aligns Diversity and Inclusion office, leverages faculty expertise

Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee today announced that Valerie Lee, the university’s vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer, has accepted the additional role of vice president for Outreach and Engagement, effective immediately. 
The two offices, while retaining related functions, have been combined under Lee’s leadership to leverage her broad academic experience in order to expand the reach of our faculty’s expertise more thoroughly into the community. Until earlier this year, the Office of Outreach and Engagement was led by Joyce Beatty, who left the university to become a candidate to represent Ohio’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“Dr. Lee is absolutely the ideal person to help this university broaden its land-grant mission to improve lives and enrich communities. In assuming this new role, she will extend and build upon the crucial work begun by Joyce Beatty,” Gee said.
For the past 21 years, Lee has served as an award-winning faculty member, department chair, and administrative leader at Ohio State. She chaired the Department of Women’s Studies from 2000 to 2002. She was then elected the chair of the Department of English, one of the largest academic departments at Ohio State, serving from 2002 to 2009. Active in a number of committees and leadership positions, Lee received the university’s Faculty Award for Distinguished University Service in 2006. 

As vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion since 2010, she leads a staff of more than 80 professionals who are deeply engaged in community outreach. In this role, Lee is responsible for managing the educational pathways and outreach programs for nine Ohio urban school districts and promoting the recruitment and retention of underrepresented, first-generation, and low-income students. Lee also has oversight of the Todd A. Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male and the Frank W. Hale, Jr., Black Cultural Center.

The Office of Outreach and Engagement, established as a centralized university resource in 2008, builds meaningful and mutually beneficial collaborations with community partners in education, business, and public and social service. 

“Outreach partnerships and engaged scholarship are very important in connecting our faculty and students with external constituents and communities. Both units’ overlapping mission of access and inclusion makes this an opportune moment to expand networks and pool resources,” Lee said.

A professor of English, Lee has published extensively in the areas of 20th Century literature, African American literature and theory, critical race studies, multicultural pedagogy, higher education administration, and outreach and engagement. She has presented her scholarship throughout the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean. She also is the recipient of Ohio State’s highest teaching award, the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Her national leadership includes service as past president of the Association of Departments of English, the national organization for English professors. She has received numerous community and national recognitions, including awards from the College Fund, the NAACP, and the Columbus YWCA Woman of Achievement.

Lee earned a B.A. in English and French from Atlantic Union College, an M.A. in English from Andrews University, and a Ph.D. in English from The Ohio State University. She joined the Ohio State faculty in 1991. 
Editors note: A photo of Lee is available by contacting Amy Murray.