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Otis College Announces $1M Gift in Support of Anti-Racism Initiatives

Otis College Board of Trustees Chair Mei-Lee Ney
Mei-Lee Ney, Chair of Otis’s Board of Trustees, made the contribution to support the College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts.

Otis is proud to announce a contribution of $1 million by Mei-Lee Ney, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Otis College, in a significant endorsement of the initial anti-racism actions announced by the College in June. The gift enables the immediate launch of several initiatives, including additional scholarships and the hiring of a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) executive role.

“I made my donation because racial injustice is something I feel strongly about,” says Ney. “Systemic racism within our educational, financial, and societal institutions disproportionately affects Black communities and can create additional obstacles for students, faculty, and staff.”

In a statement to the Otis Community on June 1, President Charles Hirschhorn wrote that “we all need to work together to actively address structural inequality in our society, and in higher education. Black Lives Matter at Otis.” The College subsequently announced new initiatives to support Black students, including a commitment to being an anti-racist institution; mandatory anti-racism training for faculty, staff, and students; $1.5 million in new aid for culturally diverse and underserved students; and additional aid for 2020 Summer of Art students from local high schools.

The College also launched the Black Creatives Institute, which is focused on developing an inclusive and affirming campus climate for incoming Black-identified students in an effort to increase student engagement, first- to second-year retention, and degree completion. The week-long program commenced on Monday, August 10. 

“We are tremendously grateful to Mei-Lee Ney for her generous support,” says President Hirschhorn. “There is much we need to do, and this early affirmation of such important work is critical.”

Says Karen Hill, Chair of Otis’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, which is comprised of faculty, staff, students, and alumni: “This generous and thoughtful gift from Mei-Lee Ney will support our ability to make a difference in our campus culture, as well as support our desire to collaborate with others seeking to write a new narrative in history around equity, social justice, and fairness.”  

“I hope my donation will inspire others to give,” says Ney. “Artists reflect differently and bring new ways of thinking. I don’t think there’s a better place than Otis to put our heads together and try to make a difference and bring real change.”   

Photograph by Monica Nouwens.