Jermaine Wright finds a new home at Southern

Kenneth BaahContributor

As the current associate vice president of Student Affairs on campus, Jermaine Wright is aiming to help to Southern create an institution that can better serve its students in a holistic manner. Wright has been associate vice president of Student Affairs for a year and is tackling issues like equity and race.

According to the university’s website, Wright oversees the following departments of Student Affairs: Multicultural center, the Sexuality and Gender Equality Center, Michael
J. Adanti Student Center, University Access Programs, Student Involvement and Leadership and John Lyman Performing Arts Center.

“So, the way this portfolio was put together and characterized, was thinking about our underrepresented student population which included the diversity and inclusion piece of the portfolio. While my counterpart, [Jules] Tetreault has the wellbeing pieces.” said Wright

Before coming to Southern, Wright obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from SUNY Binghamton. He also has a master’s degree in public administration from John Jay College and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University in public administration in 2008.

Wright began his career working in non-profit management, specifically with individuals on welfare and those in transition from welfare to the workforce. Wright later pivoted to higher education to help give individuals a chance at a better life through education.

“I found that I was constantly helping people to get jobs, but there’s nothing wrong with working at a fast food place or working at a retail place, but considering, what the minimum wage is and what individuals were getting paid, there was no way that individuals would be able to sustain themselves. So, it made me realize that I needed to be in an environment where I was, preparing individuals to become self-sufficient.” said Wright.

He later worked as CUNY under the Black Male Initiative within their Student Affairs Office. Wright subsequently became the interim associate director of the Office of Special Programs at CUNY, helping minority students succeed.

What attracted Wright to come to Southern, he said, was the institution’s social justice mission.

“I thought about ideally working with a population or an institution that understood diversity inclusion and equity and sought to treat everyone equitably,” said Wright.” And ensure that individual students got the support, and the access, and the opportunities that they needed to really survive and do well here in college, but then thereafter as they become career professionals.”

Outside of his job description, Wright also
serves as an adviser for the Brotherhood of Scholarship and Excellence Club and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority on campus.

“He does a really good job of making sure things are in place for students so they could have a better experience on campus, making sure that events are well ran,” said president of the Zetas, Katia Bagwell.

One of Wright’s personal goals is to be a role model for students of color on campus. Growing up, he lived in poverty and now wants to do what he can for young people of color so they too can be leaders and professionals through education.

“My friends [said] that I would have basketball Sundays and we would go to the park and play with kids in middle school, high school and we would talk to them about college,” said Wright. “They would look forward to seeing us and having those conversations and letting them know where we were, what we’re doing so that they can see themselves in us and say that this is a reality, and this is a possibility for you as well.”

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