College names Freeman assistant dean to focus on equity, inclusion and OSU-Tulsa
Thursday, September 30, 2021
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The College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University is showing its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by going above and beyond.
In the spring of 2020, Dr. Jason F. Kirksey, vice president and the chief diversity officer at OSU, recommended that every college name a senior inclusion officer to broaden and deepen the university’s commitment to diversity.
CAS has gone further, promoting Craig Freeman to assistant dean to lead these efforts, along with focusing on OSU-Tulsa.
“This decision by Dean (Glen) Krutz to not simply answer the call, but to also elevate the position to his cabinet, establishes a precedent that hopefully others across the university system will soon follow,” Kirksey said.
“I am certainly pleased with the appointment of Craig Freeman. However, as a two-time alumnus of CAS and an associate professor of political science, I am especially proud of this demonstrated commitment to moving OSU forward by my home college.”
In the position, Freeman’s goals will include developing resources, expanding culture and collaborating with department heads on best practices in diversity, equity and inclusion. He will continue as director for the School of Media and Strategic Communications and add assistant dean responsibilities.
“Working for the dean in the college, fortunately diversity, equality and inclusion are already in our DNA, but we need to highlight that culture more,” Freeman said. “What we now are able to do is to more thoughtfully deliver that culture to our faculty, staff and students. It’s making sure that everyone at OSU feels respected, welcomed and engaged in the social and academic life of the college.”
Originally from Philadelphia, Freeman started writing for a local paper at 15, finding a passion for storytelling. He earned his bachelor’s from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from Louisiana State University and practiced for a few years in Baton Rouge before realizing his heart was in education.
“Educators had a remarkable impact on my life,” Freeman said. “I wanted to help our future generations of storytellers by giving them the opportunity to try things and learn from mentors. This way students learn more, and our community benefits.”
He joined the faculty at LSU as an associate professor for 14 years before moving to OSU. Here, he has focused on building curriculum to respond to the ever-changing media market. Under Freeman’s leadership, the school has added three options: advertising and public relations, entertainment media and social media.
“In order to grow, we have to meet students where they are,” Freeman said. “And that’s what I hope to help do at the OSU-Tulsa campus. Tulsa is one of the keys to success in the college. You look at the physical location of the Tulsa campus, and we are on sacred ground. We are at the top of historic Greenwood, we are on Native land and a mile from a significant Latinx community. So the city of Tulsa depends on us to bring these three constituencies together to provide outstanding educational opportunities for these communities and the greater community of Tulsa.”
CAS programs offered at OSU-Tulsa are critical to increasing the number of Tulsans with bachelor’s degrees.
“As we continue to develop new degree programs tailored to the area’s economy and interests, we also are committed to serving the community,” said Dr. Pamela Fry, president of OSU-Tulsa. “In his new role, Craig Freeman will bring much knowledge and experience to these endeavors, and we look forward to working closely with him to expand access and pathways to higher education, particularly for those populations that have been traditionally underserved.”
Freeman is eager to tackle the new challenges of the position.
“We are committed to providing outstanding educational opportunities for folks around the state and the Tulsa region, and that expands from the youngest students to the oldest learners,” Freeman said. “We know it’s a community that works as hard as Cowboys always do, so we are trying to bring great educational opportunities to those hard-working people in our community there.”
Freeman began his three-year appointment July 1.
“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to serve the college on this level,” Freeman said. “The support I have from my colleagues will serve our community well. I look forward to helping grow the Cowboy family intellectually, geographically and culturally.”
Photos By: Jason Wallace and Phil Shockley
Story By: Lonna Freshley | CONNECT Magazine