Intercultural student affairs gains new leadership

by Celia Carbone / Beacon Correspondent • October 27, 2016

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Tamia Jordan worked as director of student activities for eight years at Berklee.
Tamia Jordan worked as director of student activities for eight years at Berklee.

Tamia Jordan tied her Emerson-purple scarf and pinned a freshly printed nametag to her blazer last Thursday before entering an introductory meet and greet event. The lady of the hour introduced herself to about thirty guests with her newly accepted title: the director of intercultural student affairs.

Jordan arrived on campus two weeks ago. Prior to accepting the position at Emerson, Jordan served as the director of student activities at Berklee College of Music for eight years. She said a number of different traits inspired her to join the Emerson community.

“I have had a strong desire to work with creative students for a long time,” Jordan said in an interview. “This is the perfect experience for me, the perfect opportunity.”

In her previous position at Berklee, Jordan integrated social justice work on top of student activities. But now, at Emerson, Jordan said she could make this central to her work.

As director, Jordan said she will be an advocate for the academic, social, and cultural needs of multicultural students. She is passionate about her involvement in campus life given her personal and professional commitment to social justice work, she said.

“I just really feel good being in an institution that leads with diversity and social justice as core to its mission and it is palpable,” Jordan said. “There is a lot of conversation already around diversity and social justice and you don’t necessarily have that at every other institution.”

Robert Amelio, director of diversity and inclusive excellence, said Jordan possesses many qualities that make her a good fit for the Emerson community.

“[Jordan has] a great knowledge of the intercultural student affair field and working with students from various backgrounds,” Amelio said. He also said one trait that makes her welcoming for students is her infectious energy.

The opportunity to chat with Jordan drew a crowd at the meet and greet hosted by Campus Life.

A receiving line of about thirty students and faculty gathered in the Max Mutchnick Campus Center to greet Jordan. This was one of the largest turnouts for a new faculty meet and greet, said Sharon Duffy, interim senior associate dean of campus life.

“When I first met Tamia, right off the bat I sensed that she had strong positivity and was very enthusiastic,” Jeremy Liang, a junior visual and media arts major, said.

Jordan said at the meet and greet that she plans to meet with the multicultural student organizations on campus. She also told guests she wants to become a resource for the students she will be working with closely and find ways to further improve and develop the existing programs.

Though she does not have explicit plans to improve the intercultural student affairs department at this time, by virtue of being a different director, there will be subtle changes in the existing mode of operation, Jordan said in an interview.

“It’s a chance to jump on the foundation that was set previously,” she said. “It is an opportunity to walk into something that is not broken.”

Her next sixth months on campus will be focused on observing and learning about the existing programs for multicultural students, she said at the event. Jordan said she will concentrate on learning the history of the department of intercultural student affairs and determine future initiatives based on the needs expressed by student organizations.

“There’s always an opportunity, no matter how great things are, to tweak things or to redefine what you are doing, what your goals are, and what your priorities are,” Jordan said in an interview.