This is the final story in a three-part series.
A search committee is looking for new Center for Diversity & Community leadership.
Students have been involved in the hiring process from the beginning, said Kim Grieve, vice president of student services and dean of students.
“Every student will, of course, have the chance to meet each of the finalists when they come to campus and have a voice,” she said.
Grieve and Lamont Sellers, associate vice president for diversity, have been handling the day-to-day operations of the CDC in the interim period, along with increased involvement from students.
Following the resignations of Lena Tran, the former intercultural program coordinator, and Adetokunbo Oredein, the former director, two leadership roles in the CDC are vacant.
Grieve said the CDC is looking to hire a director and then a coordinator in the next few weeks.
Olivia Mann, a senior sociology and criminal justice double major, is one student on the hiring committee. She’ll sit in on interviews after spring break, she said in an email.
“(We) had the opportunity to give feedback on what we wanted to see in the new CDC director and the types of skills and experiences we wanted emphasized in the job description,” she said.
Saeed Dabbour, a junior business marketing major, is also involved in the hiring process. Dabbour reviews the resumes and cover letters of the applicants, and will be present for phone interviews with candidates.
“I think it’s extremely important to have these experiences. Right now after going through a couple of (applications) I learn how important it is to have a student’s voice on the committee,” Dabbour said in an email. “Also, it lets you know how to set up your resume and cover letter, and just gives you a different perspective on how search committees of organizations/companies review and look at job applications.”
Mann said it’s important to have students included in the hiring process as much as possible.
“First, the CDC director is someone who is directly involved with students to a very great extent and has a profound impact on the experiences of marginalized students at USD,” she said. “Second, I think that inviting students to be an integral part of the hiring process can do a lot to mend things after the negative experiences many people had last semester.”
Dabbour said he hopes more students take part in the selection process.
“I think it’s really important for all students to be involved and make sure their voices are heard,” he said.
Sellers said it’s a difficult time of year to hire in higher education, as most people tend to start new positions in June.
“We’re just looking forward to getting the right person in here for the job to be able to take things forward,” he said.
A strong leader with a diverse background is what Xavier Wright, a senior media & journalism major, said he hopes to see in a new director.
“I think they definitely need to find somebody that can mesh well with the students without forgetting that they’re also administration,” Wright said. “And it’s going to be really hard. It’s hard to find anybody for any job position, especially considering these past events. I think they need to vet somebody much harder than they ever have before, because they have to get it right this time.”
Intersectionality is a trait Diedra Gatzke, a junior accounting major, said they want in a new director.
“As a member of the LGBT community, obviously I’m biased to somebody who also is a member, but just as long as they’re accepting and respect people’s pronouns, that’s really all that matters,” they said.
Kevin Nam, a junior computer science and economics double major, said he hopes the new leader will “intuitively understand” the role he or she has.
“I think leadership is very tricky,” he said. “They need to understand their role as well as their boundaries, but at the same time, they cannot be too hands-off.”
The new leader also needs to work well with student groups, Nam said.
“You have student organizations that kind of fall to the ground because they have no kind of person to go ask help for, as well as a person with any resources,” Nam said. “I think the director or a leadership role should understand that (support) is required for a lot of the student organizations to foster.”
Wright said the CDC is meant to be a “safe place for minority students.”
“I think other people have this idea that the CDC is for everyone — and it is, the CDC is for everyone — but we need to remember that the CDC in its inception was meant for and created for minority students,” he said.
Micci Abbott, a senior sport marketing & media major, said inclusive excellence plays an integral role in keeping the CDC strong.
“I think that writing it down and meeting about it and creating new positions to encourage diversity and all that… I think that’s very important, but I also think it’s just a starting point,” she said. “We’ve carved out a space in the CDC and then also managed to create some programming or some education for the student body as a whole, but I think that giving minorities a place to feel safe is good, but it shouldn’t be only the one place.”
Grieve said she hopes the CDC continues to grow.
“It’s very important for the Center to continue to embrace inclusive excellence, which means it’s everybody’s job to work with diversity and to promote diversity on campus,” she said. “That will be the continued vision — they’ll always work closely with Lamont Sellers, as well for faculty and staff, and then with me for the students. Making sure it’s always collaborative, and intentional in the way that we do things.”
Ally Krupinsky contributed to this story.