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Elwyn C. Lee named VP for Community Relations, Institutional AccessCabinet-level Position Will Strengthen University’s Partnerships, Enhance Inclusiveness
January 27, 2011-Houston-Already acknowledged as one of the nation’s most ethnically diverse major research universities, the University of Houston’s commitment to being an inclusive community that fosters an open, enlightened and robust learning environment has been strengthened by UH President Renu Khator’s creation of a new Cabinet-level position of vice president for community relations and institutional access.
Khator has assigned Elwyn C. Lee, UH System vice chancellor for student affairs and UH vice president for student affairs, to take over this important new role, which will focus on improving the university’s community partnerships and enhancing and improving access to college for talented underrepresented, low-income and first-generation students. It also includes oversight of the Women’s Resource Center, the LGBT Resource Center and the Center for Students with Disabilities.
Lee is scheduled to begin his new duties Feb.17.
Lee will work with student, faculty, staff and community constituents to bolster UH’s diverse learning environment and its commitment to the free and open exchange of ideas in a climate that is grounded in respect and inclusion.
“Dr. Lee has served the University of Houston and the UH System with distinction, and I am confident that his leadership and broad range of experience will enhance our commitment to academic freedom, equality of opportunity and diversity in all of its human dimensions,” Khator said. “I am confident, too, that his long record of community involvement will strengthen our many community engagement initiatives.”
“I applaud Dr. Khator for establishing this new position, and I am honored to use my experience to strengthen the university’s commitment to equal opportunity and diversity,” Lee said. “I look forward to building upon our already strong community relations and outreach programs.”
Lee graduated magna cum laude from Yale College. He later graduated from Yale Law School, and practiced law in Washington, D.C., for three years before embarking on a career as a law professor in 1978 at the University of Houston Law Center, where he taught employment law, personal injury law, administrative law, and ethics. Lee also served as chair of several state and local Bar committees. He became the first African American professor to receive tenure at the UH Law Center in 1984.
In 1989, he became the interim director for the UH African American Studies Program. His leadership for a year and a half is largely credited with resurrecting that program. He was named interim vice president for student affairs in 1991, later assuming the role on a permanent basis.
As vice president, he was responsible for the Division of Student Affairs, which includes the Dean of Students, the University Center, Residential Life and Housing, the UH Health Center, and student services such as University Career Services, University Testing Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, and the Wellness Program.
In 1995, after a four-year decline in enrollment, Enrollment Services was transferred to student affairs where, under Lee's leadership, enrollment increased steadily. In 1997, the Recreation Department was transferred to student affairs and Lee spearheaded the successful effort to garner students and legislative approval for a $53 million award-winning Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. Through his leadership, residence halls comprising more than 3,000 beds have been built, along with Greek townhouses.
In September 1998, Lee assumed a dual appointment of UH System vice chancellor for student affairs and UH vice president for student affairs. In 2003 the UH System Board of Regents honored Lee by establishing a conference room in his name in the Justin Dart Jr. Center for Students with Disabilities.
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