Valerie Lee Honored for Her Service

 Dr. Valerie Lee speaking at her retirement party

Over 225 people gathered on May 14, 2015, to give their well wishes to Valerie Lee, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Chief Diversity Officer, and vice president for Outreach and Engagement. After 39 years of service to the academy, Dr. Lee will be retiring on June 30, 2015.

A professor of English, she holds courtesy appointments in the Department of African American and African Studies, the Department of Comparative Studies, the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the Center for Folklore Studies, and the Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies.

Along her academic journey, Dr. Lee had many “firsts”: first African American woman tenured and promoted to full professor at Denison University; first African American woman to chair Ohio State’s Department of Women’s Studies; first African American and first woman to chair the Ohio State Department of English. A recipient of both the Ohio State Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Faculty Award for Distinguished University Service, she has served on MA theses and PhD dissertations for over 100 students.

Nationally, Dr. Lee served as the chair of the Association of Departments of English (ADE). She has authored books and journal articles on African American Literature and Theory, Critical Race Theory, Folklore and Multicultural Pedagogies. Her “double dutch” methodologies highlighted the need for more culturally grounded frameworks for reading and teaching African American literature.

In honor of her retirement, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion established the Valerie B. Lee Education Abroad Fund. This scholarship will support the growing number of students served by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion who wish to study abroad.  Study abroad opportunities provide students with meaningful academic and professional advantages by broadening their world perspectives, developing valuable career skills, honing foreign language proficiency and experiencing personal growth. Each year the Lee Education Abroad Fund will award both merit and need-based scholarships. To make a contribution to the Valerie B. Lee Education Abroad Fund, click here.

Selected milestones under Dr. Lee’s leadership:

  • Guided the Department of Women’s Studies to PhD status
  • Broadened the faculty diversity of the Department of English
  • Changed the name of the Office of Minority Affairs to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to better advance inclusive excellence
  • Moved ODI to one centralized location: Hale Hall
  • Initiated university-wide diversity research grants
  • Significantly increased education abroad scholarship funding for students served by ODI
  • Expanded programming for Morrill Scholarship Program, Young Scholars Program, Latino & Latin American Space for Enrichment and Research (LASER)
  • Garnered national grants and awards including the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) grant, two federal TRIO grants, and the APLU C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Award
  • Created an ODI Advancement Office, which paved the way for the addition of eight new scholarship endowments and a $2 million bequest to help support underserved students from Columbus City Schools

Image with link to