Victoria Dunn: In Memoriam

in memoriam

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is very saddened to share the news that our friend and colleague, Victoria Dunn, passed away on Sunday, December 6, 2015. Funeral Services were held on Saturday, December 11, 2015

Victoria Dunn first connected with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the summers of 1993 and 1994 as an instructor in the Young Scholars Program (YSP), designing and co-teaching writing courses to YSP high school students who were preparing to attend The Ohio State University. In 1998, she served as a writing instructor for the Upward Bound Summer Program, creating a writing course focused on the transition from high school to college. These positions combined Victoria’s love of language with her passion for inspiring underrepresented students, setting her on a path to make a difference in diversity at Ohio State.

Upward Bound, YSP, and their students benefited from Victoria’s passion, energy and creativity. In 2003, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion hired Victoria Dunn as an academic coordinator for Upward Bound. In 2004, Victoria again became a part of the YSP team, serving as both interim program coordinator and program manager. She was promoted to assistant director for YSP in 2007 and later served as interim director. The work that Victoria did in these positions, and the students that she helped, was instrumental. However, Victoria truly found her place and her passion when she became the director for Leadership Initiatives for Women of Color in 2014, a unit that she envisioned.

Victoria recognized that among the many programs and services in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, there weren’t any efforts that were tailored to support women of color. As a champion for her sisters in the academy, Victoria took up the charge to establish such an office. She created Leadership Initiatives for Women of Color (LIWOC) to foster the development of women of color as leaders in the classroom, on campus, and in their surrounding communities.

To build LIWOC, Victoria became a masterful collaborator. She developed partnerships with middle schools, high schools, community organizations and advocates, and her reach extended to nearly every college and support unit on campus. If there was goodwill and resources to be found, Victoria sought them out for her students. In a few short years, she attracted funding from national organizations such as the Association of University Women and Honda of America and from campus units such as Service Learning, the Multicultural Center and the many academic units that co-sponsored her programs. 

Through the partnerships she created across the university and Columbus, Victoria successfully launched a number of programs impacting students from middle school to graduate school. She implemented a 9th grade reading group for African American girls at Columbus Alternative High School; trained college students to run Girls Circles in Columbus-area schools; brought girls from multiple schools to engage in the Race Exhibit at the Center of Science and Industry; and led multiple student organizations and programs designed to provide mentoring and peer support for women students of color. These groups include Colorful Women in the Academy, the PEACE Corp Peer Leader program and Ladies of Leadership.

As testament to her successful work, Victoria was awarded a grant to establish Mission STEM-Possible, a middle school program designed to inspire girls to choose science careers, bringing together seven Ohio State academic colleges and several school partners. Victoria hosted Colorful Conversations, an annual spring luncheon with the Central Ohio Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Her annual Women of Color Retreat is frequently cited by women students as the single most important event to shape their undergraduate experience.

Victoria generously gave her own time and creative ideas to support other programs such as the Columbus City Summer Youth Work Readiness Program, the Samuel DuBois Cook Summer Academy, the Shirley Chisolm Girls in Government “Charting Our Course” program for middle and high school girls, and the Louis B. Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation.  She collaborated with the university’s Buckeye Book Community to foster campus-wide conversations about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and she sponsored a conversation with bell hooks about the book.

There isn’t just one factor that explained Victoria’s success in advocating for her students. She was brilliant, creative, a most effective communicator - she listened; she built trust through genuine humility and honesty; she inspired action through her conviction. Her quick wit and eloquence are not to be overlooked. But most of all, it was the love that she embodied through and through. Victoria built programs that would magnify that love so that her students would have a space to nurture their creativity, to grow meaningful and trusting relationships, to discover their talents and courageously chase their dreams. She never let her partners forget that their worked mattered, that the success and happiness of her students mattered.

Through her passion, her wisdom, and her boundless energy, Victoria has touched the lives of hundreds of women of color who have attended Ohio State. Victoria enriched this institution and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She will be very deeply missed by her colleagues, her students, and the community.

Send Condolences To:
Bishop Zollie Dunn, Jr. and Family
2839 Mossy Meadow Drive
High Point, North Carolina 27265

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