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Tommy Lee Woon appointed director of diversity and first-gen programs

In the new post, Woon will help students who are the first members of their families to attend a four-year college, as well as low-income students, successfully navigate the unfamiliar terrain of college life.

Tommy Lee Woon

Tommy Lee Woon

BY KATHLEEN J. SULLIVAN

Nearly a decade after he left Stanford, Tommy Lee Woon is returning to the Farm in April to become the university's first director of diversity and first-gen programs.

Currently, Woon is the dean of multicultural life at Macalester College, a private liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minn. The college, with a student population of 2,000, has 31 academic departments offering degrees in three dozen majors.

Woon, who was born in Yuma, Ariz., and grew up in San Mateo, Calif., is a second-generation Chinese American. At Stanford, he will help students who are the first members of their families to attend a four-year college, as well as low-income students, successfully navigate the unfamiliar terrain of college life.

Sally Dickson, associate vice provost for student affairs, said she was delighted to welcome Woon back to the Stanford community in the newly created position.

"Tommy will be the primary resource person for the first-generation/low-income student community at Stanford," Dickson said. "He will help establish the vision for the program and he will engage students and our division in the examination and exploration of cross-cultural communication and social justice."

She said Woon will be responsible for building collaborative partnerships within Student Affairs, with colleagues in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, as well as with colleagues across the campus and within the student body.

Currently, about 15 percent of Stanford's undergraduate students are first-generation students – the first in their families to attend a four-year college.

"His proven track record of creating and implementing innovative programs, his successful record of working collaboratively with students from diverse backgrounds, as well as faculty and staff, his national reputation in the field of diversity training are just a few of the reasons why he is the ideal person to be the new director of diversity and first-gen programs," Dickson said.

"As one of his colleagues said, 'Tommy is an expert in the field and someone who carries out his work with integrity,'" Dickson added.

A 13-member search committee, composed of students, an alumna and staff members, received 180 applications – and reviewed 32 – for the newly created position.

"I am thrilled about returning to Stanford to concentrate on supporting first-generation college students and examining social justice," Woon said. "As a first-generation college student from a low-income family myself, I look forward to helping to touch the lives of the next generation."

A career in student and diversity affairs

Woon has served as the dean of multicultural life at Macalester College since the fall of 2006. In that position, he served on the President's Council and the Student Affairs Leadership Team, supervised the Department of Multicultural Life and promoted inclusion and cultural competency.

Prior to Macalester College, Woon served for four years as the associate dean of student life and director of pluralism and leadership at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

He was Dartmouth's first director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the college's first comprehensive and integrated multicultural affairs and student leadership development office.

Woon also served as an instructor at Dartmouth Medical School, where he taught the two-quarter elective: Building Our Humanity: Cultures, Emotions and Medicine.

It was a course Woon had taught earlier at Stanford School of Medicine, where he had served as an instructor. He also helped develop curriculum for the school's Public Service Medical Scholars Program.

Woon, who worked at Stanford from 1993 to 2002, served as assistant dean of students/multicultural educator. In addition to counseling and working with students, Woon co-produced an educational video, Wedges and Splinters: Acts of Intolerance on Campus. He also developed diversity-training programs for residential assistants and was the primary author of the original Acts of Intolerance Protocol issued in 2001. (The protocol has been updated twice since then.)

Before joining Stanford's staff, Woon worked in student and diversity affairs at Brown University in Rhode Island and at Oberlin College in Ohio.

Woon, who earned a master's degree in counseling from California State University–Sacramento in 1977, earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of California–Davis in 1974 and an Associate of Arts degree from the College of San Mateo in 1970.