RahK Lash, director for the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Social Change (IDEAS), left Ithaca College on March 15 to pursue another opportunity.
Lash began working at the college in 2015 when he was hired as the associate director of multicultural affairs in the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs. The Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life created the Center for IDEAS in 2018 to support underrepresented students at the college. The Center for IDEAS hosts events on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion and provides academic, mental health and career resources for marginalized communities at the college.
Lash started as the associate director of the center. After serving as interim director of the Center for IDEAS beginning in August 2019, he became director in February 2020.
Lash said he is thankful that Malinda B. Smith, former director of multicultural affairs, gave him the opportunity to work at the college when she hired him while he was in graduate school.
“I’ve been welcomed, supported, challenged and loved by the campus and local community,” Lash said via email. “I’m honored that IC students would let me be a part of their college experience.”
Lash did not say what he will be pursuing after his departure from the college. Hierald Osorto, executive director for student equity and belonging, said he is working with Rosanna Ferro, vice president of the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life, to determine what the future of the Center for IDEAS will look like.
“We want to reassure the campus community that the energy and vision RahK has helped cultivate for IDEAS will not be lost in this transition,” Osorto said via email.
During Lash’s time at the college, he has been an advocate for creating an anti-racist and pro-Black campus community. He directed the Martin Luther King Scholar Program and has supported the Ithaca Achievement Program, Brothers 4 Brothers and the African-Latino Society.
Sophomore Kristin Ho, a MLK Scholar, said she believes Lash made a huge impact on her college experience. She said she is sad to see him leave but is happy he is taking an opportunity that is best for him.
“RahK has been an amazing mentor and helped me build so many leadership skills and always provided me with resources to best succeed in my academic career and personal life,” Ho said via email.
Lash said he is grateful for the friends and mentors he has had at the college, and he admires the leadership of President Shirley M. Collado; La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs; and Ferro.
“I’ve learned a lot from those three women — personally and professionally — by simply listening when we’ve shared space, watching their leadership on and off campus and noting their compassion for the students at the heart of what they do and why they do it,” Lash said via email.
Osorto said that although Lash’s departure will be a loss for the college, he believes the work Lash has done will continue to impact the college after he leaves.
“I am deeply grateful to RahK for the impact that he has made on this community,” Osorto said via email. “The seeds he’s planted will sprout and grow strong for those that follow in his footsteps. The college will lose a valuable thought partner, a colleague, a friend and a mentor. However, RahK’s impact will live on through the number of lives he touched during his tenure at Ithaca College.”