November 23, 2014 Leave a comment
The administration is currently in the early stages of searching for an Assistant Dean for Intercultural Affairs. The position was posted on Goucher’s website on November 4, and describes the position as someone who “will provide leadership for a new office of intercultural affairs…[and] engage in outreach to –and support for- all underrepresented students.” The position is not entirely new. Previously, the college had an Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs, but that person was also responsible for the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP). Search committee co-chair and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies, LaJerne Cornish ’83, explained that the school “wanted to uncouple” that position so someone’s sole purpose would be intercultural affairs. Mary Tandia will remain the EOP Coordinator. The main goal of the new position is to have someone to reach out to students of color, international students, students of low socioeconomic status (SES), first-generation college students, and LGBTQ students. Cornish said the position would address “diversity in every form.” In addition, the college is creating a new Office of Intercultural Affairs. Cornish explained that this office will “create intercultural programming and opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue within and among the various campus constituencies.” Eventually, the office will have a staff of two or three people who will be hired with the help of the new Assistant Dean. Karen Sykes, International Student Adviser, and hopefully a staff member to specifically with LGBT students, will work under the assistant dean. Vice President and Dean of Students Bryan Coker explained that a big question is the location of where the office will be, and with the Stimson Project coming into play, that is something the college will have to consider. This office will also play a role in working with admissions, as “prospective students need to see that we do to meet the needs of a diverse student body,” Coker said. Once the assistant dean is hired, Cornish said, he or she “will be integral to developing the process” and has to assess the needs of the college. Coker, who began working at Goucher in February of 2013, said that one of the first things he noticed when he started at Goucher was the lack of efforts in diversity and inclusion. “Structurally, there was a lot we weren’t doing [as an institution in terms of diversity,]” Coker said. Many of Goucher’s peer institutions have intercultural centers on their campuses. He explained that the college needs to prepare students for the diversity that exists in the real world. Coker elaborated on the Program Prioritization Process, an administrative evaluation last spring, which looked at what Goucher could be doing better, and “one recommendation that was specific to student affairs…was [to] decouple EOP and all of the diversity support and programming.” He added that he hopes that the new office will “really engage the campus community in discussions about diversity and inclusion…[and] privilege.” This includes discussions about all kinds of diversity: race, opinion, lifestyle, religion; the list can go on. The creation of this office is a piece of the Shared Visioning initiative from Student Affairs launched last spring. The search committee, chaired by Cornish and Director of Student Engagement, Stacy Cooper Patterson, consists of two faculty and staff, and in addition to Cornish and Patterson, four students, and one alumne/i. Patterson explained that the committee was chosen as a collaboration, and she worked with members of Goucher Student Government (GSG) to find students who would be a good fit for the committee. She wants the students on the committee to be able to engage other students in the process of finding the right candidate for the job. Committee member, Yabby Faris ’17, explained, “underrepresented students lack institutional support from Goucher College [and the college] currently has no programs and support systems to specifically cater to marginalized and underrepresented students.” This is especially true for students of color. She hopes that the new office will create a safe space “that is easily accessible to all students who are underrepresented.” As the co-president of Umoja, the Black Student Union, she plans to get student input from club members. Lexi Rudolph ’16 is also on the committee. “I am looking for someone who is aware and willing to building a community around not only the different groups of ethnicities on campus, but also support for the LGBT community and for the different religious communities [and] who can create support systems for all these groups and then work to unite the entire Goucher community,” she said. Rudolph wants Goucher to be a place where differences are “acknowledged and celebrated as opposed to not really discussed at all.” She also noted that she wants to talk with other students about the search process and gain feedback from her peers. Angelo Robinson, associate professor of English, is a faculty member on the search committee. Robinson believes that this position “shows direct intent and leadership on issues of diversity.” He acknowledged that the college is evolving to promote and produce a diverse class of students. He also said that students of color have told him that they see a lack of diversity in the students and faculty, and hope to see this change. Robinson added that this position would hopefully help to attract more students, staff, and faculty from diverse backgrounds to the college. An ideal candidate, Robinson explained, will have leadership abilities, experience, sensitivity, interpersonal skills, and a commitment to diversity.