New offices created to strengthen diversity education, leadership development among students

(Vanderbilt University)
(Vanderbilt University)

The Office of the Dean of Students has announced it will reorganize its efforts in the areas of diversity education and leadership development through the creation of two new offices, the re-purposing of an existing office and the creation of two new cross-departmental committees.

The reorganization, which represents a significant increase in resources to these areas, will expand upon and enhance the foundational efforts of the Office of Leadership Development and Intercultural Affairs and establish diversity education and leadership development as cross-departmental responsibilities, according to Associate Provost and Dean of Students Mark Bandas.

The new Office of Intercultural Affairs and Advocacy will be created under the leadership of Assistant Dean Tina Smith. The mission of IAA will include promoting engagement across cultural boundaries in university processes and practices, developing a multidimensional approach to diversity by challenging monoculturalism, engaging all students and staff in the process of developing programming and workshops that foster understanding on a cross-cultural basis, and providing advocacy services in the pursuit of problem solving and conflict resolution, among other goals.

The new Office of Leadership Development will be established under the direction of Associate Director Krystal Clark. The mission of this office will include convening a standing Leadership Committee comprising representatives from across the Dean of Students’ office as well as students and faculty, confirming a leadership philosophy statement and developing a leadership model that will be infused throughout the department, developing signature leadership programs that cut across all populations of students with multiple points of entry, and leveraging Anchor Link as a vehicle to create identifiable leadership components and measurable outcomes, among other tasks.

The mission of the current Office of Active Citizenship and Service, led by Director Clive Mentzel, will be expanded to include integrating service with community engagement and inclusion in order to pursue community with social responsibility and justice; encouraging exploration of the local, national and international communities with a goal of developing students and staff into global citizens; encouraging meaningful reflection upon service and volunteer activities and initiatives; and encouraging responsible citizenship and engagement through cross-cultural communications, connections and self-discovery.

Together, Smith and Mentzel will convene a standing Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Committee consisting of representatives from departments across the Office of the Dean of Students as well as students and faculty. The committee will focus on processes and programming to develop a culture of empathy, appreciation and understanding within our campus community and beyond campus boundaries.

In addition, advising support for the current Multicultural Leadership Council will be expanded when new officers are installed in March 2013. Advisers will include Bandas, Smith, Clark and International Student and Scholar Services adviser Heather Jones.

This reorganization is the result of recommendations from several task forces convened during the 2011-12 academic year to study and address several topical areas, including leadership excellence and diversity education. The reorganization will be implemented gradually, and the commitments of LDIA for the current academic year will be fulfilled, Bandas said.

The two standing committees will be appointed by the beginning of the spring semester in order to develop division-wide strategic plans for the next academic year. The formal reorganization will be implemented on May 15, 2013.