Stephanie Hawkes, Ed.D., has been named the senior director of Wayne State University’s Office of Multicultural Student Engagement (OMSE). Hawkes, who had served in the role on an interim basis, has been at WSU for six years, three of which have been with OMSE, where she led efforts to engage and connect students as the office’s assistant director. OMSE is currently seeking to fill that position.
“I am guided by the question, ‘How can we bring more people together?’” she said. “I believe we’re strongest when working collaboratively, and I look forward to continuing and growing partnerships across campus to further support students. I’m excited, too, to grow the OMSE team with new skills and talents.”
Located on the seventh floor of the Student Center Building and complete with a new lounge space, multipurpose room and multicultural commons, OMSE is already proving to be a natural gathering space for students. OMSE has also expanded its space for programming. Hawkes said she’s eager to work with students, staff and faculty alike to shape OMSE’s offerings in alignment with WSU’s strategic plan.
“I am delighted to be working with Stephanie in this new capacity,” said Marquita Chamblee, associate provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. “She did a phenomenal job as interim director at a time when OMSE was very short-staffed. I am excited to see what she is able to do once the office is fully staffed. Her appointment as senior director is a testament to her skills and talents and strong work ethic.”
As part of OMSE’s planning, Hawkes said they will pilot a multicultural student advisory board to collaboratively create programming and gather input. She noted that programming built around creativity, community building and casual socialization has been popular, while OMSE continues to provide necessary space for critical, issue-based dialogues to help students express themselves and make sense of current events.
“We’re learning that students want to be together in a space that is not always heavy or serious,” Hawkes said. “We want to listen to them and work with them to understand and meet their needs — whatever they might be.”
Hawkes said that OMSE is also working to engage students more via social media, with the help of Dajah Callen, who is a recent WSU alumna now serving as OMSE’s part-time graphic designer and social media coordinator.
“In our current hybrid world, we’re seeing that students want flexibility with how and when they connect with us,” Hawkes said. “Digital community can be powerful, too, and Dajah’s building out a strong social media strategy to help meet students where they are.”
She said the office is looking to further engage faculty and staff as well and plans to continue its partnership with WSU’s Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DEI) Council. Hawks said OMSE will build on its collaboration with other campus groups, including Warrior 360, Housing and Residential Life, the Dean of Students Office, Learning Communities, and more.
“As we work to redefine our office with the students, we want to be mindful of including faculty and staff voices as well,” she said. “A student’s experience in creating and finding community on campus involves us all.”
Prior to joining Wayne State, Hawkes worked with Eastern Michigan University’s Upward Bound Program and the Purdue Promise scholarship program at Purdue University. She earned both her bachelor’s degree in language, literature, and writing for secondary education and master’s degree in higher education student affairs from Eastern Michigan University. She completed her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies at Wayne State University.