Sara Xayarath Hernández is the Associate Dean for Inclusion & Student Engagement for the Graduate School at Cornell University. In this role, she serves as one of Cornell’s five University Diversity Officers and as a core member of the Dean’s leadership team, providing vision, leadership, and overall management for Graduate School initiatives and policies related to diversity and inclusion. Hernández directs the Office of Inclusion & Student Engagement (OISE), which leads the Graduate School’s efforts to recruit, retain, and support a diverse student body with a particular focus on students from groups historically underrepresented in graduate education. OISE in partnership with other Graduate School and university partners, leads student engagement and professional development programming that fosters community and develops skills to enhance academic success, improve retention and completion rates, and prepare students to pursue academic and non-academic careers following attainment of their graduate degrees.
Hernández began her career in higher education in undergraduate admissions and diversity recruitment. During graduate school, she remained engaged in the admissions community while also working on community and economic development projects as an assistant planner for the Community Planning Collaborative. In 2005, she joined Diversity Programs in Engineering (DPE) at Cornell University and was named its second director in 2009. In 2011, President Obama recognized DPE with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. In 2013, Cornell recognized Hernández with a Cook Award, which honors individuals for their outstanding commitment to women’s issues and their contributions for changing the climate for women at Cornell. Hernández was appointed to her current role in the Graduate School at Cornell in 2015.
Hernández has served as a University Member Representative to the National GEM Consortium since 2009. In 2010, GEM recognized Hernández as the University Member Representative of the Year and in 2013, she became the Standing Chair for the Operations Committee. Hernández serves as a Co-PI for Cornell’s Alfred P. Sloan Foundation funded University Center for Excellence in Mentoring Program and previously served as a Co-PI for Cornell’s NSF funded Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and STEM Talent Expansion Programs. She also serves as a Regional Specialist for the Institute for Broadening Participation supporting their outreach work with pre-college through graduate level STEM students. Additionally, Hernández serves on the Diversity Advisory Councils for federally funded research and student success programs at several other universities.
Hernández holds a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University.