New office to promote diversity
Temple’s Office of Multicultural Affairs will report directly to the President
President David Adamany has announced that Temple will create an Office of Multicultural Affairs, a new administrative body that will advance one of the University’s core missions: the continued growth of Temple as a diverse community of students, scholars, teachers and administrators.
“Temple’s historic diversity is one of its great strengths,” Adamany said. “We believe that a diverse student body, faculty and staff enrich the Temple educational experience. The Office of Multicultural Affairs is a reflection of our commitment to ensure that Temple continues to serve as a beacon for talented and motivated people of all races, nationalities and backgrounds.”
The Office of Multicultural Affairs, or OMCA, which Adamany expects to be fully staffed by the end of the spring semester, will be led by a new associate vice president for multicultural affairs reporting directly to the President. A national search to fill the position is now under way.
“The fact that the head of the OMCA will report directly to the President is very important,” Senior Vice President Clarence D. Armbrister said. “It highlights the significance of the office and its mission, and it ensures that the OMCA’s strategic focus is consistent with the President’s vision.”
The OMCA’s agenda will be much broader than the University’s current Office of Affirmative Action, which will be merged into the new office. Reporting to the new associate vice president for multicultural affairs will be four units, each headed by a director: a recruitment and retention unit, responsible for attracting and retaining people of color at all levels of the institution; a compliance and investigation unit, which will expand the responsibilities of the current Office of Affirmative Action; a business relations unit, which will work to increase and improve partnerships with minority-owned businesses; and a student support services unit, responsible for enhancing the education, personal development and quality of life of minority students.
The student support services unit will be leading a push to develop opportunities for Temple’s minority students to receive guidance and support from student mentors. Adamany is convinced that contact with role models, particularly fellow students and faculty members, will be an essential part of improving the Temple experience for minority students.
“I don’t want any student to leave Temple without having been taught by some professors who shared that student’s background,” Adamany said.
The announcement of the OMCA’s creation was welcomed by Temple Student Government president Naeem Thompson.
“If this office is able to ensure diversity at Temple, that’s a great thing,” Thompson said. “The majority of students I know say that diversity is one of the major reasons that they chose Temple.”
Temple’s student body is already nationally recognized for its extraordinary diversity. According to student surveys published a few months ago by The Princeton Review, Temple is rated as having the third-most socially and ethnically diverse student body in the nation. More than 30 percent of Temple students identify themselves as something other than white — that’s more than three times greater than the percentage of students who report themselves as minorities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (which includes Cheyney University, a historically black institution).
Yet there has been growing concern among some students that while the total number of incoming students belonging to certain minority groups has increased or remained stable in recent years, the percentages they represent on the Temple student body have declined as the total student body has grown.
“While that is a good record, the OMCA will work to help ensure that Temple enhances its competitive position for talented students of color,” Adamany said.
Among the many challenges facing the OMCA, improving minority representation on the faculty may be the greatest. About 18 percent of Temple’s full-time faculty members identify themselves as something other than white, which puts Temple 27th out of 151 “research extensive” universities. There’s room to grow, Adamany said, but comparatively low numbers of minority doctoral degree holders nationwide will make competition for candidates fierce.
“Although Temple’s recruitment of faculty from underrepresented populations hasn’t been as successful as its aspirations, I’m confident that the OMCA will be able to help our deans in their efforts to recruit many more outstanding minority faculty members,” Adamany said. “We can’t rest on our reputation as a great place for minority scholars and teachers to work. Our drive to improve minority representation will be tireless.”
- By Hillel J. Hoffmann