By PETER KRANITZ
On Dec. 1, Nathan Baptiste exited his position as Lewis & Clark’s Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions to become the new Director of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME), replacing Associate Dean of Student Engagement (ADOSE) Cathy Busha.
IME assists in creating and sustaining an inclusive campus. The department offers “events, activities, speakers, trainings, and forums” to achieve that goal, according to Busha. These have included speakers such as comic Hari Kondabolu, Black Lives Matter panels, Alternative Fall Break trips, film showings and discussions around social justice issues.
“[These events] not only support and celebrate students of color, LGBTQIA+ students and First Generation college students, but also those who may not identify with any of these communities, but seek to learn/unlearn and transform campus culture,” Busha said.
She added that IME collaborates with departments and individuals across campus to create events that promote inclusion.
Busha began serving as Director of IME in July 2014. In Jan. 2015, Busha was named ADOSE and became Interim Director of IME while LC searched for her replacement. In July 2015, Tonya Daniels was named Director of IME and served for seven weeks before leaving the position in Sept. for “undisclosed reasons.” Baptiste was then chosen as her replacement and Busha again became Interim Director until Baptiste was to enter the position in December.
“I think it’s safe to say that we were all thrown for a loop when Tonya resigned earlier this semester,” IME Student Life Intern Karissa Tom, ’16, said. She said that students felt “abandoned” by Daniels’ sudden departure.
“It felt like we, the IME staff, had to really scramble in order to make up for lost time,” Tom said. She said that the sudden transition allowed them to reevaluate how to best achieve the goals of IME, placing a greater emphasis on collaboration with other departments and students.
“IME, like our students, is resilient,” Tom said. “Our programs such as the LEAP [peer] mentorship program [for students from underrepresented communities] and Great Expectations [program for first generation students] have flourished and have greatly benefitted students from historically underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds.” Tom believes that Baptiste will be able to improve upon the previous successes of IME.
Baptiste said that he hopes to “serve as a stabilizing presence” as the new Director.
“I am less concerned about measuring potential changes in IME as I am about listening to the needs of current students,” Baptiste said. He hopes to collaborate with students, staff, and faculty to create events that will be relevant to and engaging for the community.
“Collaboration invariably leads to fresh ideas for how things are done, as well as community buy-in, so I am very much invested in collective organizing,” Baptiste said.
He hopes that collaboration will make LC a more welcoming and supportive community for students of varied backgrounds. Baptiste also believes that his experience working for Admissions and as Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment at LC will provide him with insight into how to make the school a positive environment for all students.
Busha expressed excitement about Baptiste entering the position and his ability to engage with the community as a whole.
“His natural instinct is collaboration, so I anticipate that Nathan will continue IME’s model of partnership across campus and into the community,” Busha said.
Baptiste encourages students to reach out to IME to participate in creating a positive and inclusive community.
“IME exists because there is a very real need for the institution to increasingly support students of varying social identities for the development of a greater sense of communal belonging, ownership, and agency for success in college,” Baptiste said. “But this work is ineffective in silos, so if you want to work with us to achieve this for everyone in our community, we welcome your partnership.”