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Brandeis hires three new employees, including a new VP of student affairs

Brandeis University has hired several new staff members for the fast approaching academic year. Raymond Ou will permanently replace Sheryl Sousa as the Vice Provost of Student Affairs. 

The new senior vice president for communications, marketing and external relations, Dan Kim, will start on Sept. 1, and the new academic advisor working with last names beginning with L-M, Lakiyah Russell began her position in May. 

Ou will replace Sousa, who resigned from the vice president of student affairs position—originally named the vice provost of student affairs position—after an investigation into the handling of Brandeis’ men’s basketball coach’s racist and discriminatory treatment of players. 

As her replacement, Ou will oversee the Dean of Students Office, the Hiatt Career Center, Community Living, the Center for Spiritual Life, Hillel, Family Engagement and Communications, the Counseling Center, the Health Center and the Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center.

In an interview with The Brandeis Hoot, Ou stated that he was aware of the investigation into athletics at the time of his application process, but he is reassured and confident that he will be able to build trust with students from the beginning of his tenure at Brandeis, especially while working with key campus partners. 

Ou is aware of the “enormous courage” that it takes for students to speak up. He has stated that if students come to him with complaints, he will direct them to, and work in conjunction with, the newly formed Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), which will oversee any investigations and direct students to needed resources. 

Ou has received three degrees from Johns Hopkins University, including a master’s of science in clinical counseling. “I have already asked him to begin this fall semester a holistic review of mental health needs and support deficits on our campus,” said Provost Lisa Lynch in a university-wide email.

Ou reiterated that his goal for the first few months is to have as many meaningful interactions with as many constituencies as possible and attend social events both during and after traditional work hours, in an interview with The Hoot.

Ou joins Brandeis after, most recently, being the senior associate dean of student affairs at Tufts University. In that role, he was in charge of around 125 professional staff members, according to a BrandeisNow article. Before that, he held leadership positions in student life at Yale University, Simmons University and his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University.

After a national search, President Liebowitz named Dan Kim as the new SVP for communications, marketing and external relations in a community-wide email on Aug. 6. Kim will also be part of the president’s leadership team. 

Kim sees his biggest challenges as learning about how to be effective in his new role, learning about the Brandeis culture and understanding the role of the communications office in the context of President Liebowitz’s Framework for our Future, he said in an interview with The Hoot.

“Dan Kim will bring a deep history of innovation and excellence in communications and marketing to our senior leadership team and to Brandeis,” said Liebowitz in an interview with BrandeisNow. “I am confident that, under his leadership, our communications team will be able to enhance our communications strategy and execution and to elevate our institution’s profile across the country and the world.”

Kim said he was impressed by President Liebowitz’s Framework of our Future, in an interview with The Hoot. He stated that in his years of working in higher education, this was the first time he had seen “such an understandable and inspiring vision for the future as [President Liebowitz’s].” 

Kim has stated that he is excited to be a part of a research university that is working hard to solve major problems society faces. During the interview process, he enjoyed learning more about the university as well as seeing the campus, meeting with faculty, students and the president’s leadership team. Kim is excited to meet students, faculty and more of his colleagues in the communications office. 

Kim comes to Brandeis from his role as the vice president of communications at the College of the Holy Cross. Prior to that, he held positions at West Virginia University, University of Michigan, Detroit News and Free Press and the American Bar Association in Detroit. He received both his bachelors’ and Juris Doctor degree at the University of Michigan.

Similarly, Russell is excited to meet and get to know students during the upcoming school year. She joined the Brandeis community after working at Emerson College as a residence director for a year. Before Emerson, Russell received her Master’s degree in higher education from Merrimack College. 

Russell likes that Brandeisians are recommended to explore their interests before they choose their majors and plans to encourage her advisees to pursue a holistic experience during their undergraduate careers.

Russell has had a passion for academic advising since her own undergraduate years, working as a peer advisor (Roosevelt Fellow equivalent) at Westfield State University, her Bachelor’s alma mater.

UPDATE 08/26/19, 2:45 PM: An earlier edition of this article stated that Ou will be replacing Sousa as the Vice President of Student Affairs. Ou will be replacing Sousa under the new title of Vice Provost of Student Affairs. Walker was incorrectly named as vice provost, but is interim senior vice president of communications and external relations.

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