Moving forward on a multicultural center
March 05, 2018
Campus community invited to review report findings and provide feedback
University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis said during the fall 2017 General Faculty meeting that UD is working to embody inclusive excellence through several initiatives, including the development of a campus multicultural center. The University’s Multicultural Center Working Group (MCWG) has over the last several months been examining the need for and viability of such a center, considering ways to ensure its success and gathering input from the campus community to determine the best path forward.
As a next step, the MCWG has provided a report detailing campuswide conversations led by external consultants and presenting recommendations for moving forward. The group has invited the UD community to read the consultants’ report, available on the MCWG website, and provide comments via a confidential survey.
In a letter to the campus on Monday, March 5, Assanis and Interim Provost Robin Morgan said, “Building a more diverse and welcoming community is one of the University of Delaware’s top priorities, and our shared success depends on the unique voices, perspectives and talents that we all bring to UD. We are pursuing this goal of inclusive excellence through many initiatives, focusing on our people, our programs and our places.”
Following initial meetings and information gathering, the MCWG engaged an external consultant team led by Lori Patton Davis, professor of higher education and student affairs at Indiana University-Purdue, for further exploration. The team held multiple forums on campus Oct. 15-17 with administrators, stakeholders, students and others to determine the key needs, opportunities, challenges and concerns related to a UD multicultural space. The report summarizes findings from those meetings as well as a review of existing departments on campus and documents including Inclusive Excellence, an Action Plan for Diversity at UD and Diverse Learning Environments Campus Climate Findings.
The report found that most constituents positively view the establishment of a multicultural center or at least believe the conversation about establishing one is significant and necessary. The consultants offered broad recommendations for moving forward, including identifying community needs, determining the guiding principles for a center and deciding its intended outcomes.
According to the study, although general sentiments about establishing a multicultural center were positive, constituents lacked clarity about its purpose and questioned the needs that such a center will fulfill.
The report noted that a multicultural center could take a variety of forms, offering examples of existing models to promote conversations about what amenities and structures would work best given the institutional mission, vision and goals.
“As consultants, we believe that UD is in a unique position to create a center that looks different from other centers and possibly serves as a model for other institutions,” the report said.
The UD MCWG comprises staff, faculty and students and is led by co-chairs Carol Henderson, vice provost for diversity; José-Luis Riera, interim vice president for student life; and Trevor Dawes, vice provost for libraries and museums.
Additional thoughts, feedback and suggestions on the University’s proposed multicultural center can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.