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Meléndez Appointed Faculty Fellow for Office of Strategic Initiatives and Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives Marcelle Haddix and Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Mary Grace Almandrez have appointed Suzette Meléndez as Faculty Fellow for the Office of Strategic Initiatives in Academic Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Meléndez is a longtime teaching professor in the College of Law and a faculty member who has served the University Senate and the local law community in numerous diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) capacities over the past several years, as well as fulfilling a range of community legal-interest roles over two decades.
As faculty fellow, Meléndez will undertake several Universitywide initiatives associated with the University and community work of both offices, as well as various aspects of the University’s Academic Strategic Plan. She will be involved in the research and preparation of policy and recommendation reports on DEIA priorities and topics and support development and facilitation of programming for faculty of color recruitment and retention initiatives. She will also lead and guide the University’s strategy for collaborations and partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions.
Her duties also include providing programming and operational leadership to faculty and staff affinity groups, participating in Office of Diversity and Inclusion personnel searches and other campus DEIA-related searches, supporting the analysis and recommendations report for DEIA structure across all schools and colleges, and creating and supporting DEIA opportunities for faculty and staff development.
“Professor Meléndez has been a tremendous asset to the College of Law, the University and its Senate and the Syracuse community for many years. The University greatly appreciates her expertise in DEIA matters and her service as a faculty fellow for the important initiatives being undertaken this year,” says Haddix.
“In more than 20 years of service to the College of Law and Syracuse University, Professor Meléndez has advanced her thought leadership and her professional and community commitments to a wide range of inclusion and diversity efforts and legal affairs. We welcome the expertise, insights and experiences she brings to this position, and we look forward to the University benefitting from her impactful presence in this role,” says Mary Grace A. Almandrez, vice president for diversity and inclusion.
“With her deep interest and long history in advancing all aspects of diversity and inclusion in matters of law, collegiate affairs and society, Professor Meléndez will be an excellent resource for these efforts,” says Gretchen Ritter, vice chancellor, provost and chief academic officer. “Her skills, experience and empathy provide a superb backdrop for the important Academic Affairs and Academic Strategic Plan initiatives we plan to move forward this year.”
Important Focal Point
“I’m honored and pleased to receive this appointment, and I am excited to work on new projects and continuing objectives with the Office of Strategic Initiatives and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University level,” Meléndez says. “This is such an important focal point for the University. I look forward to contributing to the momentum to advance equity and inclusion efforts designed to dismantle biased systems that act as barriers to learning, belonging and engagement on our campus and beyond.”
Equity, Inclusion Dean
Meléndez has been at the College of Law since 2002. In 2021, she was named its first associate dean for equity and inclusion. She chaired the College of Law’s Inclusion Council and co-chaired the implementation of a two-credit DEIA student requirement for fall 2024. In her capacity as associate dean, she was responsible for developing a program for the Inaugural Consortium Summer Residency for 22 students from the Atlanta University Center, a consortium of four historically Black colleges and universities, that successfully took place in Syracuse in May. She also assessed bias reporting processes and provided professional development opportunities for faculty and staff.
Meléndez chairs the University Senate’s Race, Ethnicity, Equity and Inclusion committee, and has been faculty advisor to the Latin American Law Student Association and the Family Law Society for most of her time as a faculty member. She is also a coach for the annual appellate advocacy competition of the Hispanic National Bar Association.
Meléndez, who earned a bachelor’s degree at SUNY Binghamton and a J.D. degree from the University of Connecticut Law School, has been a teaching professor of family law and has served as the College of Law’s director of the Children’s Rights and Family Law clinics for two decades. Among other achievements, she was a member of the College of Law’s annual Diversity Law Day involving area high schools and was a member of the New York State Judiciary Diversity Pipeline Initiative.
She currently serves as a member of the New York State Indigent Legal Services Board, Onondaga County Human Rights Commission and Onondaga County Bar Association.