Liam O’Donnell leaves Lafayette having worked toward making it a place “where students of all kinds could grow and thrive”

Liam O’Donnell left campus on Wednesday, February 28, creating the second vacancy in the Office of Intercultural Development. (Photo by Elle Cox ’21)

On his last day on campus, Liam O’Donnell was actively participating at the lunch panel for Criminal Justice Awareness Week, sitting amongst the students he has been interacting with as the Assistant Director of Intercultural Development for the last two years.

O’Donnell’s last day at the college was Wednesday, Feb. 28, and his departure marks the second one from the office of intercultural development this academic year. The first was former Assistant Director of Intercultural Development and Coordinator of Gender and Sexuality Programs Cristina Usino, who is now an assistant director of admissions.

While O’Donnell is leaving, he said he is thankful to both the community he has become a part of and the department he had the opportunity to work with.

“I am continually thankful to the students and faculty of Lafayette for their welcoming spirit and the ways they have made me and even my family feel a part of this community. There are many students at Lafayette whose presence here is the fulfillment of a dream, not only their own, but the hope and dreams of the communities that sent them,” O’Donnell wrote in an email.

“My hope, as a part of the staff in [the Office of Intercultural Development], was to help Lafayette live up to those dreams, to help Lafayette be a place where students of all kinds could grow and thrive,” he added.

O’Donnell joined the campus community during the 2016-2017 academic year as the intercultural coordinator and was promoted this year to an assistant director, according to Dean of Equity and Inclusion Chris Hunt.

In his time on campus, O’Donnell worked closely with student organizations such as the Hispanic Students of Lafayette (HSL) and Association of Black Collegiates (ABC) to coordinate various events including Latinx heritage month and black heritage month programming that is currently still underway.

In addition to his most recent projects this year, O’Donnell was also responsible for coordinating Masculinities on Mondays, a discussion series on stereotypes about the male gender. He also led the Movies and Meaning series, a screening and discussion series that facilitated discussion of beliefs through the medium of film.

Hunt said he felt O’Donnell was an important addition to the Office of Intercultural Development, especially in regards to his collaborative work with students. For O’Donnell, this collaboration was one of the most rewarding parts of his work at Lafayette.

“Every time I was able to connect with co-conspirators in the student body, the faculty, and the staff who truly believe in a future distinct from the past, it was a real blessing,” O’Donnell wrote.

Recently hired Assistant Dean and Director of Intercultural Development, Liliana Madrid, will be leading the search to fill both vacant positions on the department, the oldest of which has been vacant since Aug. 1. Madrid said she hopes to launch both searches quickly and simultaneously, while also engaging with both students and faculty throughout the process.

This past Tuesday, a going-away party was held at Portlock Black Cultural Center for O’Donnell during lunch, where students and faculty could come and say their farewells. It was also one of the last chances for O’Donnell to interact with several of the student groups he’s worked so closely with in the past two years.

“It is hard to leave a place of such opportunity, promise, and possibility but I know the students here will continue to grow and change their world, and the folks who are a part of creating that ecosystem of change for them will continue in their good work no matter the barriers in front of them,” O’Donnell wrote.

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