Prioritizing diversity and multiculturalism

September 08, 2009

With its new name, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs enters the school year with a recharged and expanded mission.

In a recent interview, Acting Director Mahlía Joyce said her goals for the year include updating programs that promote multicultural awareness and dialogue, supporting the College’s efforts to recruit and retain a diverse student and faculty body, and raising awareness about the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (ODMA) as an accessible resource to the McDaniel community.

In raising awareness about ODMA, Joyce said, it’s important that people understand as much about the office as possible.

“My goal is for the campus to get what we do, who we are, how we are relevant to the entire campus, and how we can partner with various departments, organizations, and offices to increase awareness and discussion about our differences as well as what connects us,” she said.

Among her other objectives for the year, Joyce said she looks forward to working with the Campus Diversity Council to help develop the College’s Diversity Statement and plan for campus-wide diversity training.

She also plans to update and expand ODMA’s online presence by creating a site that is easy to find, and to broaden the opportunities to promote diversity on campus. In addition, the ODMA is planning to utilize the College’s intranet and to create a Facebook account to advertise events.

“I try very hard to meet students where they are,” Joyce said.

The office’s first program of the school year is scheduled for Sept. 22 from 2-4 pm in Kriel Lounge in Decker College Center. Tapas and non-alcoholic sangria will be provided. For more information, contact ODMA at 410-857-2791.

In Joyce’s estimation, an active Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs is integral to the life of a college campus as a growing and thriving learning community.

“In keeping with the College’s First Principles – to educate men and women in the liberal tradition to think and act critically, creatively, and humanely – it is critical to have a presence that can contribute to and coordinate those efforts as they pertain to diversity,” she said. “I believe that this objective is best achieved in an academic and social community that is sustained through mutual respect, inclusion, self-reflection, and dialogue and that is collectively commitment to prepare students to lead in a multicultural world.”

ODMA Acting Director Mahlía Joyce with students Hannah Tam-Claiborne ’11 and Callia Crossman ’10

Joyce – a Westminster native and 2003 graduate of McDaniel College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and in Religious Studies, with an additional concentration in International Studies – is pursuing a master’s degree in McDaniel’s Counselor Education program.

In taking on the position as acting director of ODMA, Joyce said she draws inspiration from Ira Zepp, a 1952 alumnus and Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at McDaniel who inspired generations of students to lead lives committed to service, activism and peace. Zepp died Aug. 1 at the age of 79.

“I'd like to find a way to put a sign on my door with a quote that I recently read in Ira Zepp's 'Pedagogy of the Heart'. He said, 'Embrace love, learning, and hope all you who enter here.' I think that these three elements – love, learning, and hope, along with critical questioning – are at the center of a liberal arts education and are what will make us thrive as a community.”