March 17, 2008

Centers serve growing racial/ethnic populations

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale is taking steps to enhance its ability to be more responsive to its growing racial/ethnic student, faculty and staff populations.

SIUC has established two new offices – the African American Resource and Service Center and the Hispanic Resource and Service Center – that will assist the University community in efforts to be more reflective and responsive to targeted groups. The centers also will organize, sponsor and support services and programs that will contribute to the accessibility, persistence and achievement of black and Hispanic students.

Seymour Bryson, SIUC's associate chancellor for diversity, noted that professional literature indicates that offices with a focused purpose for targeted populations not only assist those populations in their transition and success, but also enhance the total campus environment.

Dexter Wakefield, a tenured professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, will coordinate the African American center, while Carmen Suarez, currently director of SIUC's Office of Diversity and Equity, will serve as interim coordinator of the Hispanic Center. Wakefield will retain his professorship and will be assigned half time to the resource center.

The two offices will offer a wide range of services and resources; however, initial efforts will include addressing issues identified in a recent report on underrepresented populations prepared by Bryson's office.

Wakefield's early responsibilities will include providing leadership to campus efforts to enhance the persistence and achievement of African American males. Suarez initially will focus on efforts to increase the number of Hispanic students at SIUC.

The new centers are modeled after the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center at SIUC