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OTC hires first diversity director

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Ozarks Technical Community College hired Daniel Ogunyemi as its first director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Ogunyemi started at the college yesterday, according to a news release. He comes to the college from Burrell Behavioral Health, where he served as learning, development and inclusion partner for less than a year.

“I want anyone from any background to know that they can come to OTC and get a great education,” Ogunyemi said in the release. “In my new role, I will focus on finding the barriers to accessing an education at OTC and work to change them for the better.”

Reached this morning, Ogunyemi said "this role came at a time that was right for myself and my family."

"I am humbled at this opportunity with OTC though I thoroughly enjoyed every second at Burrell Behavioral Health," he said via email. "I was happy to be back into mental health, especially with a growing organization that truly is championing the destigmatization of and access to mental health."

At OTC, Ogunyemi is slated to build on a student population that officials say already is more racially diverse than the area at large.

The 12-county OTC system has an 18% population of "non-white" students, according to the release. Comparatively, census data show 8% of residents in the service area are of a race other than white.

“More and more people from underrepresented groups are choosing OTC to further their education,” said Hal Higdon, OTC chancellor, in the release. “It’s important to have someone who focuses on making sure we are doing all we can to foster an equitable and supportive environment for our students and employees.”

Ogunyemi, who has taught psychology as a part-time instructor at OTC, also has past experience as volunteer coordinator for CASA of Southwest Missouri.

A member of Springfield Business Journal’s 2021 class of 40 Under 40, Ogunyemi also is running for the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education.

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