5 Things You Need to Know About...Jabar Shumate '98
This past May, University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren established OU’s Office of University Community. The action came on the heels of last spring’s revelation of a recording of members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity singing racist chants during a fraternity event. The action led to the expulsion of SAE from OU.
President Boren also emphasized that Shumate’s hiring would position OU to be a leader in the discussion of diversity nationally.
Shumate served four terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives before being elected to the state Senate on Nov. 6, 2012. He held leadership positions in the Oklahoma legislative Black Caucus. He also serves as a member of the board of trustees for the National Urban League.
Upon graduation from OU and prior to his career in public service, he served as press secretary to the OU president.
Shumate, who has a passion for improving education, serves on the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Board of Directors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public affairs and administration and a master’s degree in human relations, both from OU.
The Vice President for the University Community will have oversight over all diversity programs within the University, including admissions. The vice president will also be kept completely informed by the Office of Student Affairs of all activities aimed at making campus life more inclusive, and will work directly with the president and with deans to broaden the pool of applicants for faculty and staff positions.
You served as student body president, press secretary and now you’re back in a diversity leadership role. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned that you feel has prepared you for this latest chapter in your university life?
During my Freshman year, I was assigned to live in Couch Center, which at that time was temporary housing. At the end of the semester, my fellow Couch residents didn’t want to leave our community. I was asked to lead a diverse group of students in a campaign effort to keep Couch open. Eventually, we caught the attention of OU President David Boren and he kept Couch open. I learned to never underestimate the power of organized students to bring change. In fact, I remind myself everyday, that my office exist because of the extraordinary efforts of students.
You’re entering your first full semester in your new position. What goals are on your early agenda?
I am excited about our work to establish a diversity experience for our freshman. In addition, we established positions in each of our colleges that will work with my office to enhance our community engagement and inclusion efforts. Lastly, our office is working with recruitment services to recruit the largest, most diverse, and academically prepared class in OU’s history.
Where was your favorite place to study as a student?
Without question, the great reading room in Bizzell Library is my favorite place on campus. As a student, I spent countless hours studying in that beautiful room.
As a student, who were the campus mentors that had the greatest impact on you?
OU President David L. Boren was my greatest political mentor; he encouraged me to run for student president and the legislature. Dr. George Henderson was the best teacher and academic mentor I ever had. As well, Ambassador Edward Perkins had coffee with me every week and he pushed me to study abroad in China. Subsequently, I have visited Turkey, Israel, and Africa.
It’s the middle of the fourth quarter and you’re down by two facing fourth and three at your own 49-yard line. You are Lincoln Riley. What do you do?