April 30, 2012

Center for Inclusive Excellence leadership named

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Sapphire C. Cureg is the new director and Derrick Williams the assistant director of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Center for Inclusive Excellence.

The center, part of Student Life and Intercultural Relations, focuses on inclusive excellence in teaching, research and learning as well as campus programming, student support and community relationships.

“Dr. Cureg and Dr. Williams bring valuable experience and expertise to their roles,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said.  “They will actively engage the campus in ensuring the success of underrepresented students while also enhancing the quality of life for all students.”

Cureg, from Bluefield, W.Va., brings to the University more than 20 years experience in administration, teaching, research and management in the higher education field.   She has extensive experience in the areas of diversity, multicultural affairs, affirmative action, strategic planning and as an educator. 

“Dr. Cureg comes to us with an extensive background and skill-set in diverse learning communities.  Her dedication to students and enthusiasm for increased cross-cultural interaction and inclusion among students, faculty and staff make her an asset for this University,” said Peter Gitau, associate vice chancellor and dean of students. 

Cureg has served as director of multicultural affairs and diversity and affirmative action officer at Bluefield State College since 2007.  She developed and implemented annual diversity leadership training, collaborated with deans in instituting a diversity course requirement for students, launched a minority mentoring program for staff and students, and secured grants to promote diversity and multicultural initiatives.  She is also an adjunct professor at the college.

Cureg’s previous experience includes working as diversity liaison/officer at Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa, senior planner for the Polk County Department of Community and Family Services in Des Moines, executive officer for training and organizational development for the Iowa Department of Human Services, adjunct professor at Des Moines University, and director of strategic planning and marketing for Hospice of Central Iowa in Des Moines, as well as other positions in the healthcare field.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the team and impressed by SIU’s commitment to move toward institutional engagement with diversity.  There is plenty of exciting work to do at SIU’s new Center for Inclusive Excellence.  I look ahead to working with everyone in charting pathways of engagement, achievement and success for all students from college and beyond,” Cureg said.

As soon as she arrives in Carbondale, Cureg will talk with students, staff and faculty to get their input. 

Cureg completed her doctorate in education, counseling and student personnel services as well as her master’s of public administration at Drake University in Des Moines.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition from Far Eastern University in Manila, Philippines. 

She has received several achievement awards for her affirmative action work, volunteerism and research and served in a variety of leadership positions in service and diversity organizations.

Williams became wellness coordinator for Student Health Services in 2008 and also serves as adjunct instructor in the departments of Africana Studies, health education and previously in speech communication.  His experience includes two years as prevention educator in rape crisis services for The Women’s Center, Inc. in Carbondale, serving as faculty mentor for the McNair Scholars Summer Research Institute, and as graduate adviser for Saluki Rainbow Network.  He also held a number of graduate assistant positions at the University and previously worked as a crisis counselor for Family Service League in Waterloo, La., and program director for Mentors in Violence Prevention and an adjunct instructor at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

Williams completed his doctorate in intercultural communication at SIU Carbondale in 2009.  He also holds a master’s in communication studies from the University of Northern Iowa and a bachelor’s in communication studies and psychology from Upper Iowa University in Fayette.

“Dr. Williams, having both attended and worked for SIU Carbondale, has an appreciation for our tradition of diversity and extensive experience working with our diverse populations and with innovative programming.  As assistant director for inclusive excellence, I have every confidence that he will continue to promote our values by increasing creative programming for students to encourage intellectual growth and personal development,” Gitau said. 

As wellness coordinator, Williams has worked with students on life skills and health initiatives, conducted research in the field of black masculinities studies, counseled students, and directed Progressive Masculinities Mentors, the campus men’s multicultural anti-violence group.  He also developed educational presentations and workshops for campus and the community.

Williams said the center and its staff will work “to aggregate and galvanize the rich diversity this campus has for inclusive excellence.  We want to prepare our faculty and staff and help them work with students to become global citizens, equipped to embrace diversity, and teaching and preparing them to be successful in the changing global society.  We want to change the organizational culture so diversity is a core culture in the pursuit of excellence.”

The University created the Center for Inclusive Excellence in late 2011 with the focus on coordinating, mentoring and connecting the various minority-serving student groups on campus, according to Gitau.  It incorporates the three existing campus resource centers -- the Black Resource Center, Hispanic Resource Center and GLBT Resource Center. 

Williams began his new position last week and Cureg starts July 1.

For more information about the Center for Inclusive Excellence, visit Woody Hall Room C321 of call 618/453-3916.  Or, contact Gitau at 618/453-2461 or by email at pgitau@siu.edu.