James K. Duah-Agyeman named director of Syracuse University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs
A familiar face at Syracuse University has started a new chapter in his service to the campus community. James K. Duah-Agyeman was recently named director of SU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA).
Duah-Agyeman came to SU in 1982 as a teaching assistant in mathematics. Almost 20 years and four different campus positions later, he is excited to have the opportunity to advance the awareness of the diverse community at SU.
“When it comes to promoting programs, events and activities to increase the appreciation of the benefits and challenges of living in a pluralistic community, I subscribe to the principle of unity in diversity,” Duah-Agyeman says. “David Smith, vice president for enrollment management, noted that the first three letters of unity and the last seven letters of diversity spell university. SU is unity in diversity in all aspects. It is important that students of color; students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender; students with disabilities; and students from foreign countries are all able to share their unique gifts that enrich the beautiful tapestry we call Syracuse University.”
Duah-Agyeman arrived in the United States from Ghana in 1973 to study social ministry. He came to SU in 1982 to pursue a doctoral degree in mathematics education. He taught mathematics for SU’s Summer Institute and continued to teach each summer until 1986, when he was named assistant director/counselor of the Office of Support Services. He was subsequently named director of the Center for Academic Achievement, interim associate vice president and director of the Division of Student Support and Development, and director of the Office of Academic Development and College Preparation Programs before taking his current position.
Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean for student affairs, says Duah-Agyeman’s wide range of experience at SU makes him an ideal candidate to head the OMA.
“I am deeply impressed by the experience and superlative track record that James brings to this position, both in terms of his background as an educator and his commitment to serve our students,” Wells says. “I have worked with him on a number of projects, and I know first-hand the energy and distinction James will bring to the position and to the University community.”
Duah-Agyeman says he plans to work with Wells to provide leadership, guidance and direction for creating a trusting and supportive environment for undergraduate students of color that advances SU’s commitment to diversity. He plans to promote diversity by creating new collaborations and enhancing existing partnerships across campus. Duah-Agyeman says he hopes to build on the successes of established events, such as the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, and to incorporate new programs that promote diversity.
“The MLK Celebration is not only a success on campus, but it also shows the Syracuse community our commitment to promoting diversity,” Duah-Agyeman says. “SU needs to take an active role in the community. We hope to establish partnerships where we can be a support system for diversity issues in the community.”
Duah-Agyeman says it is important to continue with celebratory events such as Black History Month, Disability Awareness Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and Women’s History Month, but he also wants to create a comfortable environment on campus for students who are not currently represented.
“There are a lot of great support structures at SU that we plan to promote aggressively to the campus community,” he says. “However, I’m concerned about multi-racial students who don’t necessarily identify with a particular group. We need to build a home away from home for the underrepresented students at SU.”
Duah-Agyeman also plans to work with Wells to facilitate the development of anti-bias and prejudice reduction programs on campus for students, faculty and staff.