Your position is fairly new. What are your chief responsibilities?
I have the fortunate opportunity to be the university’s first leader in
diversity and community engagement. With that I will coordinate campus
diversity initiatives and develop a vision that places diversity engagement
at the center of institutional functioning at USF. My core focus will be to:
1) enhance college access and success for diverse students; 2) build
campus capacity with university employees to enhance overall diversity
efforts and experiences that promote organizational learning; and 3)
facilitate campus outreach, communication, and engagement with diverse
San Francisco communities.
Why is this important to USF?
USF has been successful with its strong diversity profile of race/ethnicity
and gender composition among students, faculty, and staff and perhaps
can easily say to itself, ‘Mission accomplished!’ It is true that a diverse
institution must have the presence of compositional diversity. Yet, we still
have an opportunity to grow in numbers among other diverse community
members and also become engaged as a learning organization that seeks
intercultural and intergroup interactions that result in deeper understanding
of self and others.
What do you think are the greatest challenges you’ll face?
I think it’s important to examine the experiences of people in our
community and understand there may be privileges embedded in our
existing institutional structures. You do this to raise awareness about what
we are doing, how we are doing it, and the impact made through our
policies and perhaps long-held practices. Raising awareness to issues
that lead to change and campus growth can sometimes be a challenge.
But the self-examination is worth it.
How will you measure success?
Because of our Jesuit tradition there is a deep connection between
mission and diversity work at USF. My intention is to always connect and
link diversity to institutional mission, educational excellence, and
organizational learning to improve institutional culture and practices.
I will need help with the comprehensive diversity work that’s ahead
of me and plan to establish a team representing a cross-section
of individuals for implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of efforts
that would include a review of institutional data on diversity and climate.
What in your background has prepared you for this role?
Everything in my life has prepared me for this role. My parents grew up
under the Jim Crow laws of the south and attended segregated schools
all their lives. They migrated to California in the ’50s for education and
employment opportunity. They had five daughters (I was number four),
and I am the first to complete college in my family. Becoming a university
dean and instructor is a significant testament to their commitment to
provide us a better chance in life. My personal story is a life of opportunity.
I am attempting to pass opportunity forward.