Committee Begins Search for New MRC Director

Melissa Harris, Editor-in-Chief

A search committee comprised of faculty, staff and students will meet for the first time this week to kick off the hunt for a new director of the Multicultural Resource Center.

Former Associate Dean for Academic Diversity Director Alison Williams left her post at Oberlin College to take on the role of associate provost for diversity and intercultural education at Denison University earlier this summer. Williams began her tenure at Oberlin in September 2012.

“The thing that we’re most excited about in the search is the opportunity to hear what students are interested in and what their priorities are for the director of the Center,” said Kristen Surla, Asian and Pacific Islander Diaspora Community Coordinator.

Dean of Students and Vice President Eric Estes announced that Associate Dean of the Curriculum and Professor of Religion David Kamitsuka will chair the committee. Faculty and staff members Kazim Ali, Gillian Johns, Shelley Lee, Meredith Raimondo, Dana Hamdan, Dim Jackson Davidson, Chris Jenkins and Marcelo Vinces join Kamitsuka in the search. Students Brian Cabral, Anne Chege, Alex Cunningham, Miles Ginoza and De’Ron McDaniel will also contribute to the selection process.

The College plans to begin advertising the position this week and will begin holding listening sessions open to the public in late September, according to Estes. The search process is expected to conclude by early December following intensive interviews and on-campus visits.

Estes added that the search committee will seek to procure a candidate “who is enthusiastic and has a real academic and activist track record working with students, especially historically underrepresented students.”

Surla and Estes both stressed how vital student participation will be in conducting listening sessions, as they will allow those who utilize the MRC to better shape the Center according to their needs. Africana Community Coordinator Dio Aldridge also said that faculty and staff engagement is key to better understanding the desires of the student body.

“I think it’ll offer the faculty and staff from other departments to see what other students are interested in and ultimately use it in their departments, too,” Aldridge said.

The search committee plans to announce the schedule for listening sessions within the next few weeks as the process unfolds. Estes said the new director will be tasked with uniting faculty and staff with students around the intellectual and political life of the community.

“[We are looking for] someone who can be an institutional leader,” Estes said. “[They need] to increase not just the compositional diversity of our community, but also the capacity of all students, faculty and staff needed to make this a more inclusive and socially just community.”

The MRC plays a pivotal role in supporting underrepresented students and providing educational resources regarding social justice and anti-oppression issues, as well as other topics. The Center’s mission statement claims it “serves as a crucial hub for the collaborative support of historically disenfranchised communities and works on issues of diversity and inclusion within a social justice context at Oberlin College and Conservatory.”