College New Hires Emphasize Diverse Skill Set, Community Relationships

Over the past two semesters, the College has restaffed multiple offices, divisions, and departments. The Multicultural Resource Commons, for one, has brought on a full staff for the first time since 2020. Katie Graham began her position as an LBGTQ+ community fellow in the MRC this semester. Graham graduated from Cedar Crest College in 2022 and focused on queer identity and intersectionality in American pop culture and the superhero genre during her undergraduate studies. She expressed excitement for the potential she sees within the MRC’s new staff.

“I’m very excited to be in an office that is very new because we’re really getting to shape what we wanna do,” she said. “All of us are new in this position. So, there’s a lot of potential.”

The Center for Student Success has also welcomed several new staff members this semester. Kyle Farris has joined the office as a director of student success & success coach, and he will specialize in working with students on the graduate school application process. Dean of Student Success Harmony Cross emphasized the importance of hiring staff with a diverse skill set for the office. “It was important that the CSS staff offered different skills because students are not a monolith,” Cross wrote in an email to the Review. “In particular, some of the CSS staff members were former mental health professionals, and while they won’t be practicing in that role, that training and lens will always be valuable. Having a staff who offers a diverse skill set is particularly helpful, as they can serve as a resource to each other as different student concerns arise.”

College second-year Ezra Pruitt feels enthusiastic about the diversity of some of the College’s new staff members.

“I am really excited about the MRC and the Center of Student Success because now I get to see people that look more like me,” Pruitt said. “Diversity and inclusion are such big things, especially here. So now that I start seeing more kinfolk, it’s definitely a great atmosphere, and I feel more welcome, too, and more inclined to go into those offices and into those spaces.”

College second-year Alana Florencio-Wain also expressed excitement about the MRC and its new staff.

“I know it’s done a lot of good in the past, and that it is changing for the better,” she said. “Bringing in a new perspective allows for growth and newness at Oberlin, and that is exciting.”

Many new professors have also joined the Oberlin community to fill vacant faculty positions. The Africana Studies department, for example, has welcomed multiple new professors.

“I’m here for the culture. I was invited to apply for the open position after the great and illustrious Johnny Coleman retired,” Michael Boyd Roman, assistant professor of Design and Black Visual Culture in the Studio Art and Africana Studies departments said. “I’m an artist and I have a skill set there, but I’m also a Black man and have a knowledge base interest and skill set there as well. I wanted to be somewhere where I was valued for both. This is where I wanted to be.”

According to Roman, settling into a new community is about understanding the needs of the space.

“One of the first things you learn in community art is that one of the best ways to alienate a community or a population is to walk in and be like, ‘I’m the expert,’” Roman said. “Ideally, you’re going to get into a new space, a new community, and you’re gonna learn what they need, what they want, how you fit, and what you can bring to the table. So that’s why I say that right now, the goal is to immerse myself in the community as much as possible.”

New staff have also participated in recent events for their respective divisions. The MRC is opening up its spaces to POC students to hold events, and the CSS celebrated first-generation students for an entire week.