New to Allegheny College is Dr. Ande Diaz, the new associate provost for diversity and organizational development. Most of Diaz’s career has been in higher education, recently working at Roger Williams University as the director of the Intercultural Center while also teaching American Studies and first-year seminars. With a B.A. from Yale University, an Ed. M. from the Harvard Graduate School of education and a Ph.D. from Fielding Graduate University in human and organizational development, Diaz brings a plethora of experience to Allegheny.
The Campus sat down with Diaz, who only arrived on campus Aug. 18, to see what her transition to Allegheny has been like and what she is looking forward to most about being here.
The Campus: What attracted you or brought you to Allegheny?
Dr. Diaz: Well, I’ve been working in higher education for a lot of years, and a number of schools use the language of ‘developing world citizens’ or ‘graduating the global leaders of tomorrow,’ that kind of rhetoric. I was really impressed because I think Allegheny actually walks the walk. I think I saw that in the connection between diversity, justice, equity, democracy, civic engagement, community, learning. All of those things, to me, are intricately connected or woven together and so to see a school that is actually being intentional about that was very exciting to me.
TC: What were your goals when you came to Allegheny, or what do you at least plan to initiate while here?
Diaz: Ultimately, I want to help shift the campus culture on inclusion and diversity, and the way that you would advance cultural change to enhance the student experience is often through cultivating and supporting faculty and staff. Because they play such a large role, faculty and staff, in the student learning, both inside and outside the classroom. So my focus will be on supporting and developing faculty and staff and resources to really enhance that as part of the student experience overall.
TC: What were your initial thoughts when you found out that this year’s freshmen class is the most diverse class, geographically, Allegheny has had?
Diaz: Yes, and I’m looking forward to learning more about that. I’m very excited about the more diverse enrollment, I’m also realistic about the challenges of the smaller class this year. But I’m really excited about seeing Allegheny grow in this area and educational access and representation are just two of the many forms of diversity. The fact that diversity has been expressed as a strategic priority across campus is something that I’ve heard over and over, and it was one of the things that I heard on my campus visit. That, again, gives me great confidence that this is a campus that is ready for those positive changes.
TC: What has your transition been like coming into your new position?
Diaz: Well I grew up in New York City, I’m used to a lot of large urban environments. I’m really excited about being in a smaller community. Meadville seems both an intimate community and Allegheny seems like an intimate campus, and I love that. Well I’m anticipating a very cold winter and I actually need to buy a coat that goes from my neck to my ankles, like a giant sleeping bag. But I’m looking forward to it, and again, the intimacy on the campus and in the community really draws me.
TC: What are your initial thoughts of Allegheny so far? Have you seen a need for anything in your short three weeks?
Diaz: I don’t think I’m in a position to identify specifics yet, because I’m actually really looking forward to hearing from ASG, I’m interested in hearing from ABC, I’m interested in hearing from teams and fraternal organizations and many of those groups. I also look forward to hearing from faculty colleagues and the many educators and staff on campus. And to figure out really what people’s experiences and what their hopes and goals are, and then I’ll be in a position to actually be a little bit more concrete in that. So really I think my focus right now has been listening because I would never presume the culture of one institution applies to a different campus community.
TC: What do you think about being a part of the bicentennial and what are you most excited about? Did you know about it when you came to Allegheny?
Diaz: Yes I knew about it and the incredible history and opportunity to mark the academic excellence and to reflect on the history of what brings Allegheny to the school it is today. I look forward to learning all of that as a new member of the community.
TC: If you could say anything to the campus community, what that message be?
Diaz: I’m excited to be a resource and a bridge builder to advance diversity inclusion as Allegheny starts it’s third century.