DiOnetta Jones Crayton Leads Change at MIT

The Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Minority Education (OME), DiOnetta Jones Crayton, will be stepping down from her position on Feb. 2. After 14 years of leading the office, she has successfully expanded OME’s programs, services, and resources for undergraduate students of color.

In a letter to the Office of the Vice Chancellor, Crayton expressed her gratitude, stating, “It has been my honor to serve as director of the OME for the past 14 years. As a team, we have accomplished great things together … It has been so rewarding and such a blessing to contribute to so many lives as well as different committees, programs, events, and services over the years.”

Founded in 1975, OME’s mission is to promote academic excellence, cultivate strong communities, and develop professional mindsets in undergraduate students of color, preparing them to become leaders in their respective fields and in civic life.

Ian A. Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education, commends Crayton’s impact at MIT, saying, “DiOnetta has been a long-standing advisor, mentor, and change-maker at the Institute. She has served on numerous Institute committees and been an essential thought partner in navigating some of the most challenging issues facing our students. I have personally valued her commitment to excellence, her strategic vision and leadership, and her ability to communicate her passion to others.”

Since arriving at MIT in August 2009, Crayton has continuously enacted change. Prior to joining MIT, she held leadership positions at Cornell University, the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. During her first year at OME, she revamped the mission statement, launched data-driven assessments of existing programs, and restructured the staffing model for optimal success.

Furthermore, Crayton introduced new programs such as Master Your Future, a professional development workshop series, and expanded OME’s industry partnership program, resulting in a threefold increase in member companies. She also co-chaired a conference on underrepresented minority student success in higher education, which brought together experts and administrators to address challenges in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Cordelia Price ’78, SM ’82, who has worked closely with Crayton since 2009, highlights her exceptional leadership and communication skills. Price acknowledges the positive impact of OME programs on student success, internships, employment opportunities, and community service. Crayton has also prioritized mentorship, establishing programs that connect students with industry professionals and MIT alumni.

OME, under Crayton’s guidance, has embraced innovation to better serve students. Years before the pandemic, she spearheaded the adaptation of OME’s signature program, Interphase EDGE (IP), into an online format called IPx. This allowed OME to accommodate a remote cohort of students and provide uninterrupted support during the campus closure.

Myles Noel, a senior majoring in chemistry, praises Crayton’s leadership style, which emphasizes listening and offering support and guidance to students. He notes that her approach has led to the development of programs like The Standard and CRWN, which address specific needs expressed by students of color.

Chancellor Melissa Nobles acknowledges Crayton’s profound impact on students, saying, “Her deep belief in our students has inspired them to believe in themselves and work towards their dreams—especially when they were unsure of themselves. She has made OME, MIT, and our world a better place over these past 14 years.”

Students also share their appreciation for Crayton’s mentorship and guidance. Kerrie Greene, an MD/PhD student, describes her as a light whose warmth encompasses everyone she supports. Many students, including Noel, credit Crayton with their personal and academic growth during their time at MIT.

Although students will feel her absence, Noel believes that Crayton’s impact will continue to be felt for years to come. He expresses his gratitude, stating, “The impact that she’s had is going to be lasting, and I think that’s something to be happy for.”

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