Written by Aguiele Ndoungla, Writer
This academic year, Austin College welcomes a new Vice-President (VP) of Student Affairs, Carllos Lassiter, who also endorses the role of Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer. Lassiter is a Vassar college alumnus and a current candidate for a Doctor of Education in Higher Education at the University of Mississippi.
As Lassiter is completing its 19th year in higher education, he decided to join Austin College in part due to its proximity to his family. After feeling isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic Lassiter realized how valuable being around his loved ones and his family was to him. Other aspects which he appreciates about the college is the hospitality from faculty and students he interacted with during the interview process. “I fell in love with the small campus setting,” he added to highlight the size and beauty of the campus as another deciding factor. The fact that Austin College is a liberal arts college also played a role in his interest in Austin College. Indeed, Lassiter has a preference for liberal arts colleges not only because of the diversity in student academia, but also because of the closeness between faculty and students. His familiarity with the liberal arts environment was a driving factor in his decision.
Lassiter was not always interested in Higher Education. As he completed his junior year as a candidate for a bachelor in Africana Studies, a combination of African American and African Studies, his main attention was directed away from education. Indeed, Lassiter went to Morocco and studied Arabic, with the intention of becoming a foreign service officer for the State Department in the Middle East. However, with the rise of conflict in the Middle East, he opted for venturing other careers, among which a job at Tougaloo College, a small historically black college in Jackson, Mississippi. “From there I fell in love with being back on a college campus and supporting students through different types of services” he explains. Since then, Lassiter found its purpose in higher education and after obtaining a Masters in Higher Education Administration from the University of Mississippi, he is currently editing his dissertation for his Doctorate of Education and expected to defend it this fall semester at the same institution.
Although he has been here for just over two months, Lassiter is already working to implement some changes on campus. One of them is the creation of “an inclusion and diversity statement that will augment the mission statement” of Austin College. This would serve to reinforce the institution’s goal of being a safe and inclusive community. The Vice-President aims at focusing on the Austin College community and ensuring a quality student life experience on campus by providing resources and working with different departments such as the campus police and dining services departments for improvement. As the first Chief Inclusion and Diversity officer of Austin College, he strives to make the community a place where all members feel a strong sense of belonging regardless of the role they fulfill here. This includes working with faculty and staff to ensure an equitable approach to interacting with students. Eager to bring his input and ideas to the further improvement of Austin College, He invites the community to see him take action. In his close friend’s words, “Watch me do the work”
Mr. Lassiter holds an open door policy. Any AC community member can visit him in his office at WCC 251. He is happy to talk to students or faculty about their ideas and issues. You can also contact him by phone at 903.813.2228.