President David Adamany’s vision for the Office of Multicultural Affairs will not be fully realized before his retirement at the end of this academic year. Currently in a transitional phase, the office is still understaffed and has not yet moved to a new location.
Rhonda Brown, director of the OMCA, came to Temple at the beginning of the academic year and said that although the president was a major advocate for the implementation of the OMCA, she does not believe that anything will be different in the office when the president retires.
“I have no reason to think it will change,” Brown said. “I think it is true that this is David’s [Adamany’s] baby. I mean, it’s something that he’s very fond of, because it’s near and dear to some issues in his heart, and I think that’s wonderful.”
Last year, the Board of Trustees voted on renovating the offices of Multicultural Affairs. Trustees Richard J. Fox and Joan Ballots were the only two dissenting votes.
Fox and Ballots were also critical of the inception of the OMCA in 2004, when the office was first created.
“I think that there is a consensus on this board and on this campus that this office is necessary,” Brown said. “They’ve been having conversations about the creation of this office for over two years.”
The new offices will be in the basement level of Mitten Hall. Brown said that the construction is slated to be complete by the end of April but will certainly be done by the end of the academic year.
The OMCA is made up of four units that, according to Brown, primarily work to incorporate minority students, minority faculty and minority-owned businesses in the university.
The units include a student support unit, a business relations unit, a compliance and investigation unit, and a recruitment and retention unit. Two of the four positions are currently filled.
“I thought I was going to have three out of four, we had a person we made an offer to, and we just couldn’t come to closure on that one,” Brown said. “I expect that we will have that one completed and filled before the end of the school year though.”
Sandy Phoel, former director of the Office of Affirmative Action, moved into the position of the director of Compliance and Investigations, and Tomas Sanchez has been named the director of Business Relations and Procurement.
“The one that I do believe will get finished by the end of the school year is Student Support Services,” Brown said. “The one that’s a little problematic though, is Faculty Recruitment and Retention,”
Brown said she expected filling that position would be a problem, because, according to her, the position requires a specialized person for the job.
“We weren’t happy with the pool that we got from that one, and I don’t hire unless it’s somebody who should be here,” Brown said.
Oscar Chow, president of Temple Student Government, said TSG is looking forward to working with a fully staffed Multicultural Affairs Office.
“This year I’ve been focusing a lot of my time on making sure that the development of the office has been seen through fully,” Chow said.
“Pretty much every person that has been hired has been through recommendations of Temple Student Government, and some of the recommendations we made have been direct hires.”
Brown said she would like the office to be fully staffed by the beginning of the next academic year.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs took the place of the Office of Affirmative Action.
Brown said one of the main reasons that the Office of Multicultural Affairs was created was to make a broader scope of multicultural affairs.
“Affirmative Action, in its really traditional narrow sense, is work for protected classes. So that would be African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and women,” Brown said.
“When you say multicultural, it allows you to get into other issues. Orientation, religious views, sort of broadens the scope of the people you want to protect.”
Since TSG has been such a large supporter of the OMCA, Chow said he believes that his successor as president will continue the student government’s close relationship with the office.
“This year has been a big development stage for the office, a lot of stuff that I initially wanted to do, we couldn’t do, simply because I need to focus more on the development of the office,” Chow said.
Brown said next year, with the addition of a full staff, the office will begin to introduce new programs, such as a mentoring program for community members.
“I want to get a full staff. I want to be in the new space, I’m looking forward to being able to do some training with chairs and departments and deans,” Brown said.
“If what you do is critical to the institution, or if what you do helps the institution advance, then I think you’re fine. You just have to do your job and do it well.”
Emily Catalano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.