Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement Opens with Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Posted on 1/26/2018 3:35:33 PM

A group of IUP students and staff cut the ribbon at the opening of the Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and EngagementIn what president Michael Driscoll called “a great day at IUP,” Indiana University of Pennsylvania officially opened its Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement on Friday, January 26, 2018.

The center, located on the first floor of Elkin Hall, opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, tours of the new facility, and a reception. The center was created to offer one location on campus where students can access services to address multiple aspects of culture, identity, and diversity.

The space, which houses the Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement, was designed based on the community-wide input, including from faculty, students, alumni, and staff. The center has space for student organization offices, private meeting areas, a multipurpose room, and a dance studio.

“This is one of the most important things created here at IUP,” Driscoll said.

Theo Turner, the center’s director, opened the ceremony by thanking all those involved in the planning, financing, and construction of the facility, which was paid for with a $2.7-million bond approved two years ago by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Directors.

Turner said the center will be a place created for the needs of IUP’s diverse student population.

Melissa Checo-Hichez vice president of Latino Student Organization“My vision…is to make this a facility that is 100 percent for the students,” he said. “We want them to be able to go forth from here with an experience that is like none other. I encourage all the community members, the faculty, and the staff to continue to show your support so the students can develop into the future professionals that we want them to be.”

Driscoll said the center will be another benefit for IUP students as they prepare to enter the diverse workforce.

“Our new and improved Elkin space provides the space and place where students can be individuals and can confer with others with like interests,” he said. “And it’s a place where they can collaborate and work together with people who are completely different.”

Two students, Jevon Graham-Wooten and Melissa Checo-Hichez, also spoke at the ceremony.

Graham-Wooten, a biology major who is also the vice president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, said he remembered when Elkin Hall was a dormitory where students often gathered. But he said the new center is a giant step forward from what he used to know.

“I believe this building will be a new age for IUP,” he said.

Jevon Graham-Wooten vice president of National Pan-Hellenic CouncilCheco-Hichez, a psychology major who is also vice president of the IUP Latino Student Organization, said that because she is graduating in May, she won’t get to experience the center for years to come. But she was excited about the possibilities for future IUP students.

“I am super-excited to hear what this center will become,” she said. “Hopefully, this will become a place students can consider a home away from home.”

The Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement is the reorganization of two former university offices: the Center for Student Life and the African American Cultural Center. It is comprised of four offices working together—Multicultural Affairs and Student Success; Student Leadership and New Student Success; Greek Life and Student Engagement; and Program Coordination, Communication, and Assessment.

The reorganization and the new space is designed to encourage programming that is wide-ranging. It capitalizes on shared resources for the benefit of serving all students, encourages mindful collaboration of the importance of inclusion in multicultural programs, and allows more purposeful planning of events through a unified calendar. 

Turner said opening the new center is just the start of a continued effort by the university to promote diversity and inclusion in every aspect of campus.

“The building is done,” he said, “but the work has just begun.”

Photo information:

  • Jevon Graham-Wooten, a senior biology major from Philadelphia, spoke Friday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at IUP’s Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement.
  • Melissa Checo-Hichez, a senior psychology major from Lancaster, spoke Friday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at IUP’s Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement.
  • Among those helping cut the ribbon Friday at the opening of the IUP Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement were, first row from left: Brianna Drylie, assistant director for Program Coordination, Communication, and Assessment; Theo Turner, director; Melissa Checo-Hichez, student speaker; Michael Driscoll, IUP president; Jevon Graham-Wooten, IUP student speaker; Rhonda Luckey, vice president, Division of Student Affairs; and Cornelius Wooten, vice president, Division of Administration and Finance.