Jacob Lawson, News Writer • firstname.lastname@example.org
On November 9, Emory & Henry College announced its first Director of Inclusion and Diversity, with Patricia Gonzalez stepping into the new role.
Gonzalez comes to Emory & Henry College’s Inclusion & Dialogue Center a little over a year after of its opening.
Before coming to Emory & Henry, Gonzalez’s most recent position was at the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan.
While at NYIT, Gonzalez said, “I worked as a programming coordinator. My role as programming coordinator was to assist with student government, so I was one of the advisors. I was also the Greek co-advisor for six fraternities and sororities.”
At NYIT, Gonzalez worked to get students more involved on campus.
“I brought back the Student Programming Association, now shortened to SPA, and basically, that wing of students will create programming for our campus so whether it was a broadway show, or a having a dinner or a paint night for our students,” Gonzalez said.
Also, Gonzalez focused on social justice initiatives while at NYIT.
In this respect, Gonzalez said, “My coworker and I, at the time, created Common Ground, which is a series of workshops focused around having difficult conversations.”
With discussions from these workshops involving issues such as last year’s presidential election, Gonzalez said, “The students wanted a space for them to have dialogue, to talk about their differences, to educate one another, but also to feel like they have a community within a community. So I built a lot of community. I worked on making sure that students had that space. We had a multitude of workshops, we also did Take Back The Night for one of the first times on our campus.”
Gonzalez makes a connection between her work at NYIT and her new work at Emory & Henry with her concept of workshops.
Gonzalez said, “My ideal of a workshop is student led. If a student doesn’t want to talk about it, then I don’t bother, pretty much. But it gets me excited if students are saying ‘we need to talk about the Women’s March and why it’s important’ and they lead this initiative and all I’m doing helping them find the space, advertise, and be there to support them.”
Starting as the New Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Emory & Henry College, Gonzalez said, “My goal here at Emory & Henry is to help find a voice for a lot of students and when we think about diversity and inclusion, I wish people would start considering the inclusion part first, because we’re just trying to build inclusive spaces where all can get along.” Gonzalez wants to help build a healthier community on campus.
To this, Gonzalez said, “We’re trying to build an opportunity for students to realize there is more outside of our classrooms, we want to build conversations that’s going to tap into the issues of the campus.”
From her earliest days on Campus, Gonzalez has
been meeting with faculty, staff, and students, seeing “what’s already at Emory & Henry, what’s working, what’s not working.”
Part of Gonzalez’s visions for the campus, she said, is to help “recruit and retain new students.”
For her plans for the Emory & Henry, Gonzalez is encouraging student involvement.
Gonzalez said, “My idea is to run this opportunity with the students’ voices in it. If my students aren’t saying ‘this is a need’, who am I to decide that? My goal is, if there is a need, to create initiatives and programming that is going to be geared towards solution driven opportunities for our students to see that need being met.”
On the impact that she hopes her new positions will have, Gonzalez said, “This leaves something more for Emory & Henry. It leaves an opportunity for a lot more students to look at at Emory & Henry and say ‘This is the place for me.’”