Harvard Announces Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
On Monday afternoon, Harvard announced the appointment of Sheree Ohen as the inaugural associate dean of diversity, inclusion, and belonging for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). She comes to the post from Clark University, where she is chief officer of diversity and inclusion, and will begin her new role at Harvard on September 28.
Ohen will serve as the lead FAS administrator for “conceiving, developing, and overseeing strategies to advance and support diversity, inclusion, and belonging for all constituencies in the FAS,” wrote dean of the faculty Claudine Gay in a statement on the appointment. One of Ohen’s first tasks will be to a lead a study of FAS senior-staff practices in hiring, development, and promotion, with a focus on increasing racial diversity.
The appointment comes shortly after Gay announced a string of racial-justice initiatives, including a re-activation of a “cluster hire” in the field of ethnicity, indigeneity, and migration. “Declaring our values is an important step, but only through institutional action will we make progress in becoming the Harvard we aspire to be,” she wrote. “I am eager for the benefit of Sheree’s leadership as we work at every level of the FAS to dismantle the cultural and structural barriers that have precluded that progress.”
A California native, Ohen earned an undergraduate English degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law. Before beginning administrative work, she served as an attorney focused on civil-rights litigation, employment law, and criminal defense.
“Dean Gay’s commitment to advance racial justice and address inequality is truly monumental,” said Ohen in a statement. “I am honored to step into this inaugural role to help build on the efforts already under way and to shape and co-create a strategic vision for sustainable inclusive excellence.”