As part of ongoing initiatives to embed diversity and racial justice throughout all aspects of its mission, Le Moyne College has appointed Rev. Charles Oduke, Ph.D., to the newly created position of Vice President for Mission Integration and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Father Oduke will begin serving in this position on July 1. As one of the College’s vice presidents, Father Oduke will be a member of President Linda LeMura’s leadership team and will bring a perspective focused on mission and DEI to the discussions, deliberations and decisions taken by President LeMura and her team.
Father Oduke’s appointment comes at a pivotal moment in the history of Le Moyne and the United States. As local pandemic conditions improve and the College works to revitalize student life in the fall, the College continues to devote critical resources to foster a just, equitable and inclusive campus climate that is committed to the health, wellbeing and safety of all members of the College community.
“The biggest challenge facing Le Moyne, and society as a whole, is healing and transforming our race relations,” said Father Oduke. “Transformation of hearts comes with formation and honest engagement with the reality of over 400 years of history of BIPOC struggle for equal dignity, inclusion and success. I look forward to collaborating with senior leadership, students, faculty, staff and alumni in both articulating and living the Ignatian Catholic mission of the College, particularly in promoting diversity and inclusion and advancing equity in our ethos and praxis.”
For more than three decades, Father Oduke has been steeped in Ignatian pedagogy and Jesuit charism. A native of Kenya, Father Oduke was educated in Kenya, India, and the United States, where he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston College. He brings to his leadership role a unique combination of first-hand experiences gained from living in several countries in Africa, as well as South Asia and the U.S. These experiences are coupled with a deep understanding of multiple cultural, political and faith traditions.
In addition to his decades of service as a Catholic priest, Father Oduke has held academic positions at higher educational institutions in Kenya, Sudan and the U.S. He has held teaching appointments in the philosophy departments of Le Moyne College and Boston College, and since 2018 he has served at Le Moyne in a number of roles focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. Currently serving as the interim director of the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Global Education, Father Oduke has also recently advised students in the HEOP and AHANA program and taught philosophy and core courses. His extensive administrative experience includes serving as part of the team that co-founded Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOSUT), a public research university in Western Kenya, where he was a senior tenured lecturer in philosophy and religion as well as dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Father Oduke’s personal commitment to faith that does justice has transformed law in Kenya, where he researched and helped argue a case before the Arbitration Tribunal, High Court, and Court of Appeal in a landmark burial dispute. The favorable decision in this civil case, Oduke vs. Onindo 2010, advanced the dignity, respect, and rights of women in Kenya. Following this legal victory, Father Oduke championed a change to Kenya’s constitution to improve the participation rate of women in Kenya’s political and governance structures. He has also actively led efforts to create peaceful solutions in the wake of election violence in Kenya.
“Father Oduke brings an outstanding background to an important and challenging role,” said President LeMura. “His passion and dedication to addressing social injustice and racism is inspirational and will bring a perspective and dynamic to the College that we’ve never had before.”
In his new position Father Oduke will ensure that the Catholic intellectual tradition and Ignatian spirituality work in tandem with our calling to be an institution that promotes justice, diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of our community.
President LeMura thanked the search committee for their diligence and discernment throughout the search process. Chaired by Sister Ann Kenyon from campus ministry, committee members were: Kenyon Black, director of Upward Bound; Don Kirby S.J., professor of religious studies and rector of the Jesuit Community; Stamtios Kyrkos, associate professor of physics; Farha Ternikar, associate professor of sociology and; Shawn Ward, associate professor of psychology. In addition, these students interviewed the finalists: Kennedy Cole, Jasmine Jones, Hannah Mesfin, Crystal Montano, Byanca Moore, Osabohien Oduwa, Ivonne Santana, Emmanuel Taveras and Andrews Wiredu.