New chief diversity officer has background from Columbia, Harvard


Jolene LaneThe University has a new chief diversity officer. Ms. Jolene Lane will join the University on March 29 from Teachers College at Columbia University, where she has served the last nine years as senior director in the Vice President’s Office for Diversity and Community Affairs.

Lane earned a master of education degree from Harvard University in administration, planning, and social policy with a concentration in higher education, and she will receive a doctorate this year from Teachers College, Columbia in adult learning and leadership.

She will report to President Matthew Wilson, who says Lane’s background, her professional achievements and her passion for diversity and inclusion are a good fit for our needs.

“We can and will further strengthen our commitment to diversity, cultural competency, and educational and employment opportunities,” Wilson said. “Jolene is ideally suited to assess where we are today and to work with others so that we serve better all members of the Zips family and the broader community.”

Lane said she’s looking forward to moving to Akron and joining the University family.

“I am very impressed with the strong legacies of the institution, grounded in its 147-year history, as well as its resilience and the potential for ‘making a difference moving forward’ as President Wilson has emphasized,” Lane said. 

She already has a degree of familiarity with the area, as Akron is her husband’s hometown.

“I spent two amazing days at Akron that were filled with positive energy and fun,” she said, referring to her on-campus interviews in the fall. “I was overwhelmed by the expressions of support and the welcome I experienced.”

Looking ahead

One of her first goals will be to reach out to faculty.

“I am looking forward to developing relationships with the outstanding Akron faculty, and I cannot wait to leverage their research and expertise to help us advance inclusive excellence, learning, critical thinking and personal enrichment,” Lane said.  “I truly am inspired by the commitment to students and the central focus on their education and success at Akron, which speaks to the heart of my practice as an educator.” 

She said she appreciates that UA holds inclusive excellence as a core value, and that it is dedicated, as she is, to improving equity and opportunity in educational spaces for new generations.

“I have an allegiance to social justice and a strong commitment to creating an inclusive environment that recognizes and appreciates the talents, skills, and perspectives of all individuals, encouraging everyone to achieve their fullest potential,” she added.

Before her time at Teachers College, Lane was executive director of New York City-based Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America. The group worked with academically talented students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds to help them gain admission to the nation’s elite colleges and to help them prepare to succeed there.

At UA, Lane’s full title will be chief diversity officer/associate vice president for inclusion and equity. She will supervise the Office of Inclusion and Equity, Office of Multicultural Development, Multicultural Center and Women's and Gender Resource Center. The Office of Accessibility has dual reporting lines to Student Affairs and the Office of Inclusion and Equity.

Her appointment is pending approval by the Board of Trustees.