Lehigh Announces West Point's Donald Outing as University's First Chief Diversity Officer

Dr. Donald A. Outing, current chief diversity officer and director the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity for the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, has been named Lehigh’s first Vice President for Equity and Community. Dr. Outing is also an associate professor in USMA’s Department of Mathematical Sciences.

In that role, Dr. Outing served as the academy’s senior leader in coordinating efforts to create a more diverse environment, developed and implemented the USMA diversity and inclusion strategic plan, and created an integrated assessment process that allows senior leadership to measure effectiveness. He was the principle strategic communicator for West Point’s diversity and inclusion endowment campaign.

The Vice President for Equity and Community position at Lehigh was created to lead institutional efforts to advance its work on diversity, equity and inclusion.  Dr. Outing will report directly to Lehigh President, John Simon, and will be the senior administrator responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive plan to enhance and continue to build on the University’s efforts.

Responsibilities will include developing and implementing initiatives through strategic planning, training, education and research, community relations, policy development and communications. In his inaugural role, Dr. Outing will coordinate with University administration, deans, department heads, trustees, and a variety of groups and individuals already engaged with diversity and inclusion efforts on campus. “This is an exciting step in Lehigh’s efforts to foster a campus culture of equitable community, and one that I’m certain will have an immediate positive impact,” said Lehigh President John Simon. “With the addition of Donald Outing to the University leadership team, we will have one individual focused solely on leading and coordinating all our efforts to create a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming campus environment. I look forward to working with him to advance our efforts.”

Chairman of the Lehigh Board of Trustees Brad Eric Scheler ’74, ‘05P, ‘08P, ‘09PG, said that the creation of this inaugural role underscores the University’s commitment to a more diverse and inclusive campus.  “We have every confidence that Dr. Outing brings to the University the right skills, tenacity and focus mandated by this new role,” Scheler said. “His work at West Point has been exemplary. From our interactions with Dr. Outing and his record of extraordinary accomplishments, we are convinced that he is the right and ideal person for Lehigh.”

Trustee Maria Chrin ’87, ‘10P, who chairs the Board’s committee on diversity and inclusion, agreed, adding that Dr. Outing has outlined a comprehensive approach in conversations held throughout the search process. “His passion, experience, and strategic focus in this arena gave us confidence that he understands the challenges and opportunities that come with an evolving campus community, as well as the importance of implementing a multi-dimensional plan of action,” Chrin said.  “I look forward to working with him and supporting his efforts.”

A New Member of the Lehigh Team

In a statement prior to his arrival, Dr. Outing said he extended his gratitude to the “entire Lehigh family for entrusting me to be Lehigh’s first Vice President for Equity and Community.”

Throughout the search process, he said, “I enjoyed the many interactions and conversations, and I’m very excited about joining the Lehigh team.  I know what it takes to lead and coordinate efforts to create a diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners. I spent the last 10 years of my career preparing for this very important role, and I want Lehigh to become the best example of diversity and inclusion among all institutions of higher learning.”

Biological Sciences Professor Jennifer Swann is a member of the search committee, as well as a tri-chair for Lehigh’s Council for Equity and Community (CEC). In those roles, she had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Outing several times during the interview process. “Throughout the interview process, I was duly impressed with his calm disposition and focus,” Swann recalled. “He is a deep listener who has already accomplished a great deal at West Point. Moreover, as a faculty member in mathematics, he understands the challenges inherent in establishing an inclusive, diverse campus. He will be a great addition to our campus and I look forward to working with him.”

Undergraduate Student Senate President Dakota DiMattio shared a similar impression of Dr. Outing based on her opportunities to meet with him during the search process. DiMattio says she is “beyond excited” about Dr. Outing’s appointment.  “He’s done some amazing work in recruiting a diverse faculty and staff and has worked closely with students on a number of initiatives, and I’m sure he’ll make an impact as Lehigh continues to grow and diversify in the coming years.”

A Career Characterized by High Achievement

Dr. Outing earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Excelsior College (formerly Regents College), after studying mathematics at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He was awarded his Masters of Science in applied mathematics and Ph.D. in mathematics from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

He was certified as a diversity and equal opportunity practitioner in the U.S. Department of Defense in 2015, after completing the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), and received the Commandant’s Award for highest overall achievement. He also was certified to mediate employment disputes within the defense department that same year.

Prior to his current role at West Point, he was the founding director for the Center for Leadership and Diversity in STEM for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In that role, he conceived and implemented an innovative STEM outreach strategy directed at middle school students that impacted more than 10,000 students nationwide. He was awarded more than $700,000 in grants in support of these initiatives, which also focused on best practices for marketing to underrepresented populations and underserved communities.

The naming of Dr. Outing to the new role at Lehigh followed a comprehensive search process, which incorporated broad constituencies across campus, as well as a number of organizations, such as Lehigh’s CEC.

Psychology Professor Diane Hyland, who chaired the search committee with Vice President of Finance and Administration Pat Johnson, said she joins with Johnson in thanking the members of the search committee for their work.

“This new position will provide leadership and coordination for existing and new campus initiatives to advance diversity and inclusion and to foster a campus culture of equitable community for all students, staff, and faculty,” she added.

In addition to Professor Swann and Ms. DiMattio, the search committee included:

  • Basel Alnajjab, Graduate Student, Electrical Engineering
  • David Caruso, Project Manager, President’s Office
  • Kathleen Hutnik, Associate Dean and Director, Graduate Student Life
  • Rita Jones, Director, Women’s Center
  • Ainsley Lamberton, Administrative Director, Office of the Vice President & Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Studies
  • Cheryl Matherly, Vice President and Vice Provost for International Affairs
  • Lori McClaind, Senior Assistant Dean of Students
  • Michael Raposa, Professor, Religion Studies

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