David M. Granger


AUBURN -- John Okegbe Bello-Ogunu, a native of Nigeria, has been named Auburn University's new assistant provost for multicultural affairs, effective Jan. 1, 2000.

Bello-Ogunu replaces Johnny Green, who has held the position on an interim basis since April, when James Brown left for a job in Louisiana.

Bello-Ogunu is associate professor of communications and former acting director of the Department of Communications at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., His experience in minority and multicultural affairs includes four years as associate dean for multicultural affairs and director of international programs at Bluffton (Ohio) College and three years as an advisor to the president at Edinboro (Pa.) University on issues relating to minority student recruitment and retention.

Bello-Ogunu says he is impressed by the number of multicultural recruitment and retention initiatives already in existence at Auburn, but hopes to help develop a more unified approach.

"From my visits to Auburn and my meetings with such groups as the council of deans, student representatives and with the provost, I have a clear understanding that Auburn is a very diverse university in terms of initiatives and ideas and that it has attempted to pursue a very serious, broad and comprehensive multi-cultural initiative." Bello-Ogunu said. "I also found out that there are many cultural diversity initiatives going on there, but they appear to be very scattered and fragmented.

"My understanding is that the Auburn administration is interested in not only improving the existing initiatives, but that they would like to see a better coordinated, unified effort toward increasing the number of minority students, faculty and staff as well as retaining them. If you have a good plan it's easy to get minorities at any university, but it's more difficult to retain them and to provide them with programs that help them know that your university is a good place for them to live, to study and pursue their ideas."

Bello-Ogunu also stressed the need for support from the AU campus and the community.

"I'm interested in making sure that minority students find Auburn welcoming and attractive and conducive to living their daily lives," he said. "I believe that my past experiences have prepared me to be able to pursue and achieve theses goals with time. But I want to emphasize that the successful accomplishment of these ideas is not a one-person task, but that it takes an all-inclusive campus-community effort. The multicultural affairs office should lead the way with guidance and direction, but it must receive the unconditional, strong, continuing support of all the constituencies of the university."

Bello-Ogunu, who was raised in Europe, came to the United States in 1981. He holds a bachelor's and master's degrees in mass communication from the University of Southwestern Louisiana and Southern A&M University, respectively, and a Ph.D. in rhetoric and public address from Ohio University. He has also written several articles published in scholastic journals on cultural diversity in higher education.

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CONTACT: Bello-Ogunu, 810/777-1608 or 248/370-4133.