Where Do We Go From Here?
From the Office of the President: An Open Letter to the Biola University Community Regarding Diversity Aspirations and Multi-Ethnic Programs
May 25, 2011
Dear Biola Community,
Last week I was blessed by the “Spoken Word” presentations at our reconciliation chapel. I commended the speeches and Glen Kinoshita afterward for reminding me — us all — of the many voices of this Biola community.
It was just eight months ago when we met in Sutherland Auditorium in September and I presented to you several dimensions leading us toward a heightened commitment to campus diversity and the Department of Multi-Ethnic Programs. That was the forum where I announced the decision to restore the Jesus Mural. I am so proud of the way this community came together this year following our September meeting. We worked through challenging and sensitive issues. Teams were formed and tasked with assignments, and their work is to be commended. I’ve seen good collaborative efforts resulting from this teamwork and important partnerships formed across this campus to support areas where we see potential and to enhance those areas that were weak. Now that our academic year is winding to a close, I wanted to make sure everyone was informed of the progress that was made since our September session.
Leadership and Personnel Changes
To strengthen Biola’s ability to achieve our aspirations regarding diversity and cross-cultural engagement, several new positions have been created and others have been upgraded. I am delighted to announce that the following staff have been added to fill these positions.
Serving as the new Vice Provost of Multi-Ethnic and Cross-Cultural Engagement is Dr. Doretha O’Quinn. She will be responsible for multi-ethnic programs, cross-cultural programs and service learning. Doretha is no stranger to Biola. She holds a Ph.D. in Intercultural Education from our Cook School of Intercultural Studies and served as the Director of our Inglewood satellite campus from 2003 to 2007. Several of her family members are also graduates of Biola. Doretha enjoys a wealth of vibrant connections to greater Los Angeles and has extensive international experience. She comes to us from Point Loma Nazarene University where she has served as the Associate Dean of the Arcadia campus since 2008.
Tamra Newman has accepted the position of Associate Director of Multi-Ethnic Programs. She comes to this new position from Undergraduate Admissions where she has been serving as the Assistant Director for Undergraduate Admissions and Multi-Ethnic Outreach. She is mentor to over 30 students who assist in her programs and who participate in the B.E.A.T. (Biola Ethnic Advancement Team). She has extensive experience in multi-ethnic education, student mentoring, and gospel music ministry. We believe she will be instrumental in assisting the department and Biola in advancing biblical diversity on our campus.
I am also pleased to announce that Alicia Miller has accepted the position as Multi-Ethnic Programs Assistant. Alicia Miller has considerable experience in the Department of Multi-Ethnic Programs both as a former student participant in the programs and as the Coalition for Social Action Chair in Associated Students. Alicia brings numerous administrative and mentoring gifts to her role as department assistant and she continues to expand her teaching abilities as well as serve as a diversity workshop presenter.
A direct result of our heightened commitment to diversity is the enhancement of the Department of Multi-Ethnic Programs. In addition to the staff changes noted above, this past February an outside consultant was brought in to evaluate our programs and provide recommendations on how the Multi-Ethnic Programs department might be strengthened. Several commendations were also offered, including a reference to MEP being a program by which other colleges, including non-Christian colleges, benchmark themselves. This commendation was particularly affirming of Glen Kinoshita who, after 20 years of service, remains one of the longest serving Directors of Multi-Ethnic Programs in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
Finally, in order to reflect the enhanced and expanded work of Glen and the team, the Department of Multi-Ethnic Programs will be changing its name to the Department of Multi-Ethnic Programs and Development to more accurately reflect the breadth and direction of the programs.
Mosaic Cultural Center
In September, I reported that the University leadership is committed to getting behind a formal launch of the Mosaic Cultural Center. Needless to say, the launching of the center would communicate the value of diversity and intercultural-learning in a university setting that would also go a long way to validate the center and its purposes. Earlier in the year I also communicated that this project would take some time to determine the right physical space for the center where dialogue, fellowship and programming can take place, and to also allocate University funding.
To assist in this process, a Mosaic Cultural Center Site Location Task Force was commissioned by Provost David Nystrom under the leadership of Pete Menjares, Associate Provost for Diversity Leadership, and that included the following members:
⋄ Alain Datcher, Student Rep, AS Multicultural Relations Chair
⋄ Brenda Velasco, Internal Communications
⋄ Matthew Hooper, Student Development
⋄ Glen Kinoshita, Multi-ethnic Programs
⋄ Ivan Chung, Director of International Student Services
⋄ Alicia Miller, Multi-Ethnic Programs Assistant
⋄ Ken Bascom, Facilities Planning
⋄ David Shynn, University Planning
The task force was commissioned to research potential sites for the Mosaic Cultural Center that would accommodate a number of staff offices and space for programming and activities. I am happy to announce that the new home for the Mosaic Cultural Center has been identified. The center will be located on the ground level of the west end of the Rose Building. Further, the staff of the Department of Multi-Ethnic Programs and Development will occupy this space sometime in the coming academic year after several modifications are made to accommodate the staff and work of the center.
Return to Los Angeles
In December, Provost Nystrom began priority planning on Biola’s initiative of returning to the urban environment of greater Los Angeles as an extension of Biola’s mission, and in the spirit of learning from the city and specifically from those who live and work there on a daily basis. With this priority in mind, a planning team led by David Nystrom and Pete Menjares began work on this task and immediately met with Rev. Adam Edgerly, Pastor of New Song Church in Los Angeles, Dr. Larry Acosta, President/CEO of the Urban Youth Workers Institute, and Rev. Andy Bales, CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, to solicit their input on the initiative. These three leaders met with David Nystrom, Pete Menjares and me to share their perspectives on how we can continue to make progress in the areas of the curriculum and co-curriculum, service, partnerships and facilities.
Progress on this initiative included the need to benchmark all current Biola University activity in Los Angeles and other urban settings to assess better the extent of Biola’s curricular and co-curricular involvement, and to assist us in outlining strategic next steps. Additionally, and as a means of demonstrating neighbor love and to honor existing relationships with our urban friends, an scholarship in the name of Dr. Larry Acosta was established to assist young people coming to Biola from urban environments and programs like KidWorks in the city of Santa Ana, which Dr. Acosta founded. Further, Biola University entered into a new partnership with the Norwalk/La Mirada Unified School District through John Glenn High School’s Film and Television Pathways Program, and our own Cinema and Media Arts Department with the assistance of Dr. Michael Gonzales, Professor of Cinema and Media Arts. These two efforts have enabled us to connect with our local community as we remain committed to strengthening existing relationships in the process of thoughtfully expanding our networks and presence in the City of Los Angeles and its surrounding vicinities.
Office of Cross-Cultural Education
Regarding the initiative to provide cross-cultural experiences for every Biola undergraduate student, we long for the day when every student is able to graduate having completed a cross-cultural experience. We long for the day when we, as a community, have fostered an environment that thrives on the unique and varied contributions of our cultural differences. This year we continued to move toward several of the recommendations made to the President’s Administrative Council (PAC) regarding the findings of the Cross-Cultural Task Force charged with investigating what it would take to provide every Biola undergraduate with a significant cross-cultural experience by the time he or she graduates. To do so, it was imperative that we allocate funding and personnel this year toward its first stages of implementation. As a result, I am happy to report that senior administration has approved the funding for a Director position to provide leadership in the coming year as we seek to identify critical next steps in implementing a comprehensive effort to prepare our students to be intellectually and experientially cross-cultural Christians, effectively able to live out the gospel in diverse settings and provide servant leadership across the world.
Art Advisory Task Force
As a follow-up to the announcement to restore the Jesus mural, this year I commissioned an Art Advisory Task Force to establish the themes and to research and guide the process of selecting new public artwork. This task force is diverse in its composition and its members are drawn from the University Diversity Leadership Committee, Art Department faculty, University Aesthetics Committee, student leadership, staff and faculty ranks. The task force is being co-chaired by Loren Baker (Art Department) and Pete Menjares (Diversity Leadership) and includes the following members:
⋄ Ken Bascom, Facilities Services, Aesthetics Committee
⋄ Dan Callis, Art Department
⋄ Ivan Chung, International Student Services, University Diversity Leadership Committee
⋄ John Drebinger III, President, Associated Students
⋄ Donald Gordon, Undergraduate Admissions
⋄ Katrina Greene, Faculty, Cook School of Intercultural Studies
⋄ Lisa Ishihara, Director, Chapel Programs
⋄ Brian Miller, University Communications & Marketing
The task force has been actively engaged in selecting themes and researching possibilities for public artwork, in addition to advising senior leadership on important next steps in light of the decision to restore the Jesus mural.
In this regard, the Jesus Mural is on target to be restored by artist Kent Twitchell in mid to late June 2011. The restoration of the mural will coincide with Biola’s hosting of the annual Christians In the Visual Arts (CIVA) conference in June and in preparation for our celebration of the arts in 2011-12 under the theme of Year of the Arts: Sanctuary and Sacred Spaces. A documentary capturing the restoration process, the university’s approach and discussions surrounding the Jesus Mural is scheduled to be filmed beginning in June and will serve as a learning resource for internal and external purposes.
I am so grateful for the work of so many in our community who devoted much of their time, energy, emotion, leadership and passion for this University to model Christ’s Kingdom in every way. I have stated throughout all my updates this year that we are in a process, a journey that has no end line. In order for Biola University to be positioned to provide a quality education for all of our students and continue to foster a climate of mutual respect and understanding, we must keep the conversation going. I can’t say enough about how important this will be for us to thrive in our increasingly multi-cultural university. My prayer is that our unity grows and our influence in the wider Christian community continues as we move forward with a common vision and kindred spirit.
Yours in Christ,
Barry H. Corey