Chatham Interviewing Candidates for New Director of Multicultural Affairs Position

Photo: A poster in Anderson Dining Hall for Native American History Month. In the future, The Director of Multicultural Affairs will handle programming for this and other campus celebrations of diversity.

Credit: Ross Hsu

Author: Ross Hsu

Chatham is currently interviewing candidates for Director of Multicultural Affairs, a new position within Student Affairs that will implement events and dialogues to educate about and celebrate diversity.

The director will be a member of the Diversity Council, a group of students, faculty and staff that addresses issues and needs of diversity, inclusion and training. The Director of Multicultural Affairs will implement the plans set forth by the council, as well as collaborate with offices and communities throughout campus to develop a calendar of events and training on inclusion and diversity.

“They’ll be working and thinking about how they can build better connections for students and build those relationships with faculty in terms of training,” said Assistant Dean of Students Heather Black on the new position. She says the position will be very active and student oriented, and will be highly collaborative with the entire campus.

The position was first suggested last semester when many students felt that the university hadn’t done enough programming for Black History Month. Black Student Union president Lauren Brown said, “For all the years that I’ve been here, if BSU was not around, nothing would be done to celebrate African American History Month.”

An article written by Teri Bradford, now president of Chatham Student Government, brought more attention to students’ concern over the lack of official programming. The article was shared on social media by both students and alumnae. Part of administration’s response was the creation of the Diversity Council, which deals with big picture issues. The Director of Multicultural Affairs will more directly address students’ desires for more comprehensive programming.

The only student on the search committee interviewing candidates for the job, Bradford says her biggest wishes for the person hired are that they are serious and can fit in and cooperate with students. “I want someone who’s dependable and is able to connect with students and validate feelings even if they don’t know what you’re going through,” she said. “This isn’t a job that you can take lightly… you can’t just say things offhand and not think about them.”

Black said that Chatham is “catching up in a way,” since positions like this aren’t unusual on other campuses. The University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University both have offices devoted entirely to diversity and inclusion.

Black also commended President Finegold’s involvement and excitement about Chatham’s increased focus on inclusion. “He has a fresh perspective, and has been very good at listening and taking action on some items we were sharing,” she said.

The search committee has narrowed the applicants to four people, and are considering a few more. The candidates are all experienced in academia, college administration and multicultural leadership.

The committee invited students to attend presentations for some of the candidates to learn about them and ask questions. Black says students that attended were very excited and engaged. “Students feel this is needed and have offered great feedback,” she said.

Bradford feels positive about the candidates interviewed so far. “They interacted very well with students at their presentations,” she said. She’s excited in general with the direction Chatham is taking toward inclusion. “Compared to the last two years I’ve been here, Chatham is doing a lot better about responding to issues and needs, and this is one of those new responses.”

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