LeManuel Lee Bitsóí named Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leader LeManuel Lee Bitsóí will begin his tenure on March 14.

lemanuel lee bitsoi

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leader LeManuel Lee Bitsóí has been named by Brandeis University as its next vice president for DEI. Bitsóí will begin his tenure on March 14.

Bitsóí is currently the associate vice president for diversity affairs and special advisor to the president for indigenous affairs at Fort Lewis College, where he is responsible for campus-wide DEI programming in collaboration with other offices, faculty, staff, and students. In his role at Fort Lewis, he has worked closely with senior leadership. He also oversees the Diversity Collaborative Affinity Centers and led the development of a comprehensive DEI plan for the college. Prior to his position at Fort Lewis, he held DEI leadership roles at a number of other academic institutions.

With more than 20 years of experience working in higher education, Bitsóí is a first-generation Native American (Navajo) graduate of New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico with a master’s degree from Harvard University and an Ed.D. in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.

 ​​“Throughout his career, Lee has dedicated himself to expanding opportunities and support for individuals of all backgrounds and identities at colleges, universities and beyond,” said Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz. “I am confident in his ability to further our efforts to ensure that every member of our community is fully supported in their efforts to achieve success at Brandeis.”

As vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Bitsóí will direct the ongoing work of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He will also have broad oversight of the many offices that collaborate to promote DEI on campus including, the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Ombuds, the Office of DEI Programs, Training, Education, and Development, the Gender and Sexuality Center, and the Intercultural Center, and he will guide the implementation of the university’s recently revised Anti-Racism Plan.

“Brandeis’ history as a university that was founded at a time when Jewish students and faculty faced limiting quotas in higher education informs our work today, pushing us to include all those who may have faced barriers to participation because of their ethnicity, religion, race or gender.” Bitsóí said “I look forward to working together with all members of the university to hold ourselves accountable to our founding values that resonate with me as an Indigenous person.”

Bitsóí has conducted research as a bioethicist, examining the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetic and genomic research within Native American communities, and throughout his career, Bitsóí has championed efforts to recruit and support underrepresented minorities – particularly in the sciences. For his efforts, he has been recognized with the Presidential Service Award by the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.

”Enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in our science labs, our art studios, our performance spaces and our classrooms is an ongoing effort at Brandeis,” said Carol A. Fierke, Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs. “We look forward to working with Lee to continue and accelerate that work.”

Since July 2021, David M. Fryson has served as the university’s interim chief diversity officer and vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. An attorney by training, David ran his own law practice for a number of years before taking on a position at West Virginia University as deputy general counsel. There, he served as the founding vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion from 2012 to 2017 and would later become a senior advisor to the president for diversity and community outreach until 2020.

Bitsóí was selected after a six-month-long national search; the search committee was co-chaired by Provost Carol Fierke and by Harleen Singh, associate professor of literature and women's, gender, and sexuality studies. The University thanks the search committee for their work in identifying Lee.  WittKieffer was the university’s executive search firm.

“We were very fortunate to attract a strong field of candidates for this important role,” said Singh. “Lee stood out for his thoughtful interactions with our students, and the respect he showed for their concerns during his campus conversations. We are very pleased to welcome him to Brandeis.”


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