This semester, the Center for Inclusion and Diversity was given its grand opening in the Campion Student Center, signaling a new effort to boost campus-wide diversity on the part of SJU’s administration. The following Q&A with Dr. Monica Nixon, associate provost for inclusion and diversity, was conducted via email. We hope it serves as a short introduction to this exciting new space on campus!

Dr. Monica Nixon came to SJU this past fall to head the Office of Inclusion and Diversity as its associate provost. (photo courtesy of OID)

What was your path in higher education before coming to SJU? How does your past experience inform your position here?

I’ve worked in several universities, including the University of Virginia, University of Puget Sound, Colgate University, Seattle University (also Jesuit), and now SJU. I’m a believer that we learn and grow from all of our experiences, so I think that all of my experiences have informed my role here. More specifically, though, my work in multicultural affairs and organizational change have prepared me for this work at SJU.

What does the Center for Inclusion and Diversity strive to do at SJU? How does their mission dovetail with SJU’s mission as a Jesuit institution?

The Office of Inclusion and Diversity contributes directly to SJU’s mission to cultivate engaged citizens and to support students and those who work here as whole persons. OID encompasses four areas whose staff work closely together to support student success: Student Inclusion and Diversity, Inclusion and Diversity Access Programs, International Student Services, and the Women’s Center.

How have you been surprised at the campus community’s reaction to the 2016 presidential election? How do you see us moving forward as a university?

I’m not surprised by and have been pleased to see people create opportunities to come together to learn across differences of opinion and experience. I think this is what will help us move forward collectively.

What does your job entail as the Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity? How do you recommend students reach out to you if they have concerns pertaining to diversity on campus?

My role as APID is to connect existing efforts, create new ones, and align these into a cohesive whole. The President’s Council on Inclusion and Diversity has been charged with conducting a study of the university’s climate around inclusion and using that information, we will create an Inclusive Excellence Blueprint to integrate inclusion into the work and goals of all departments and divisions. My office is in St. Thomas Hall in the Provost Office, and I’m accessible by email (mnixon@sju.edu), phone (660.610.1015) or appointment. I also spend a couple of hours a week – Tuesday afternoons this semester – in the Center for Inclusion and Diversity in Campion for drop-in conversation.

 What was the main idea behind the construction of the Center of Inclusion and Diversity? What do you hope students get out of it?

The Center for Inclusion and Diversity serves as a visible and accessible space for all students to come together to learn, plan, advocate, meet, and get to know one another. It’s an important space – though I know it’s not the only space – for intercultural understanding and learning.

Can you tell us about any upcoming workshops or events being hosted at the Center for Inclusion and Diversity?

We have a lot happening this semester and are already planning ahead to next academic year, when SJU will host a conference on October 26, marking the 50th anniversary of a visit to campus from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Events this semester will lead up to the conference. We just added an Events tab on the OID website and are working to build that out as a resource for inclusion-related programs on campus. Keep an eye on it for regular updates!

Find out more about the Center for Inclusion and Diversity’s staff, mission, and events at http://sites.sju.edu/oid/.

Cover image courtesy of The Hawk, taken by Luke Malanga. 

-interview edited by Annie Clark

 

 

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