Eboni Bryson | Staff Writer
Following the sudden resignation of the former Director Mr. Rod Bradley, Multicultural Student Affairs quickly hired a new director to ensure students are well-served during this academic year. The Nubian Message sat down with the bubbly interim director Dr. Jennifer Brown to discuss her role and aspirations for the year.
NM:The sudden resignation of Mr. Bradley during the summer left many shocked and wondering about who would be able to fill his place. What attracted you to such a prominent position? How long will you be serving as the Interim Director?
Dr. Brown: I was actually recruited by Dr. Ray. With it being so close to a new academic year, they wanted to make sure the position was filled immediately. To me, they may have looked to me for this position because I have been working 20+ years in higher education. I [also] have been very successful at my previous institution of working with students and having student success, I’m an NC State alum, and am experienced with working in the UNC System. In terms of my appointment, I will be here for the full academic year– so until June 30th.
NM: MSA primarily serves minority students. These students often go MSA for refuge, as most are often perplexed with the stressors of being a minority at NC State. How do you plan to help students become comfortable here at State?
Dr. Brown: Being an alum, I came from a small town and I lived with family, so that’s all I saw. Everyday I saw people who looked like me. So, I felt like a fish in a big pond when I got here. What’s important here, [which] my parents have always instilled in me, is the importance of family. I want my students here to see this office as their family. So when you do have a stressful day, and you just need someone to vent to, you can come here and get that. If you’re just having a hard time and trying to work through some issues- whatever you need, I want this office to be somewhere where they can come. I want students to feel like they have family here whether [they are] Latino, African American, or Native American. It doesn’t matter; if you need somebody, you can come here because you can get the support you need.
NM:Each member of the MSA staff has a unique diversity oriented story that explains why they currently work for MSA. What did you do prior to taking the position as the Interim Director of MSA? Do you have a unique diversity story? If so, what?
Dr. Brown: Previously, I worked at Western Carolina Department of Athletics, and I started out as the Director of Academic Support for Athletics; so I created the Academic Support Program for student athletes. I know about academic success and what it takes to be successful on a college campus. I then moved up into Athletic Administration where I started to create policies that would [positively] impact our student athletes at Western. So coming here, I’m working with a different student population. I was dealing with [ethnic minority] students who were student athletes– it was a similar type of student, but a different population with the same issues as those students. What I’m bringing here, coming from an athletic background, is that I see [it as] having team. When I speak of team, I also speak of family; thats how my students up there [ at Western] felt, so down here that’s how I want my students to feel as well– as if we are all a team, we’re all working together as one. We’re all working together to serve you as a student. I’ve always been an advocate for students and I think that’s what I was looking for in the position. I wanted a position that would allow me to learn, to teach and to be an advocate for students. The assistant directors are teaching me stuff everyday about their cultures that I wasn’t aware of. I’m getting some new skills and I’m loving it.
NM: MSA is currently looking for a new permanent director. What steps is MSA taking to find this new director? In your duration, what do you hope to accomplish with MSA?
Dr.Brown: What I’ve been told is that the office will conduct a national search, advertise and the whole nine yards. One of the things I will say is that we have an assistant director for African American Student Affairs, Native American Student Affairs and Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs. What I’ve noticed is that they are very supportive of each other, but I also notice that they sometimes get in their own silos. I want to see us work even more as a team and and pull things together rather than separate them. Also, there seems to be a lot of turnover , so I’d like to bring some stability. Not just for the staff but for the students. [Turnover] is not good, because you’ll never get that sense of family if you have to deal with change all of the time. So I would like to bring some stability and to continue to maintain the awesome reputation that this office has on campus because they have a long history of programs that they have been doing. They’ve been very successful with students, such as [with] the Peer Mentor Program and Symposium and I want to continue that. I want to work with the assistant directors to make them even better because they were great when I was here and making sure that we are meeting students needs because the students now are different from when I was in school. We want to make sure that we’re giving students the resources and programs that THEY want.
According to Dr. Tracey Ray, Interim Director of the African American Cultural Center, MSA will start its national search in the spring for candidates to fill the permanent position of the Director of MSA. The entire hiring process will include recruitment led by N.C. State’s Department of Human Resources, along with phone and on-campus interviews conducted by a panel of students and faculty. While all of this is soon to be underway, Dr. Brown is excited for her 11-month term. She welcomes students to her office at 1107 Pullen Hall.