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The Daily Wildcat

 

New dean prioritizes campus inclusion

Teresa+Graham+Brett+works+on+a+computer+in+her+office+on+Friday.+Brett+is+a+newly+hired+associate+dean+of+students%2C+specifically+in+charge+of+multi-culture+inclusion+and+initiatives+on+campus.
Zi Yang Lai

Teresa Graham Brett works on a computer in her office on Friday. Brett is a newly hired associate dean of students, specifically in charge of multi-culture inclusion and initiatives on campus.

The UA hired a new associate dean of students, Teresa Graham Brett, to help focus on multicultural engagement and inclusion in the campus environment.

Brett is in charge of overseeing campus programs and evaluating how they are handling current issues. In addition, she is looking to develop new programs and initiatives with students and faculty members this upcoming year.

Brett said she is looking to spread a message of inclusion within the entire university.

She noted that her main task thus far has been getting a sense of where the campus stands today. Brett said there have been many people who have been interested and committed to making a difference and that she envisions herself working to build strong relationships with them.

Brett mentioned that she is looking for “gaps within current campus programs” while trying to determine which strategic partnerships can be used to improve the current system.

She is going to be working directly with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Affairs, the Women’s Resource Center, African American Student Affairs, Asian Pacific American Student Affairs, Native American Student Affairs and the Guerrero Student Center.

Brett is currently exploring new collaborative initiatives with other university institutions in order to help facilitate campus-wide engagement.

One of the main challenges to the new position, Brett said, is that building a new social norm of student engagement comes at a high expense. In addition to the monetary cost, Brett said there is also a significant cost in terms of spreading awareness and information throughout the university.

In order to provide students and faculty with the necessary level of access to new programs, Brett acknowledged that she and her staff will have to create a strong foundation to build upon in the future.

The high level of polarization and natural resistance to change, Brett said, is another obstacle that she plans to overcome with a positive outlook on learning and acknowledging different perspectives.

“People can learn and change if we are open to taking a step back and looking at life through the perspectives of one another,” Brett said.

With this in mind, she said she will be eagerly trying to reinforce the significance of the value of each person’s unique frame of reference with which they view others around them.

One of Brett’s goals this year is to make sure there are enough spaces for students to explore the ideas and perspectives of other cultures.

She said she believes this will help to form an educated campus that will be able to have productive dialogues to solve the major issues of inclusion facing the community.

According to a recent article published by University Relations, ethnic diversity among freshmen is more than 40 percent, while among transfer students, it is over 47 percent.

“A diverse and educated student body allows for multiple opportunities for students to explore themselves and others in order to overcome differences,” Brett said.

Brett said she believes students will become more aware of their peers in order to work together towards solving problems. She said she’s most excited to work with her staff towards improving the process the university uses to handle multicultural and inclusion issues.

With their continued work with students and faculty, Brett and her staff are looking for new ways to create an open environment on campus this year.


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