IMRCD loses executive director

Campus Times
October 10, 2003

photo by Reina Santa Cruz

Derek Vergara, director of the Institute of Multicultural Research and Campus Diversity greets the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Fred Yaffe at the IMRCD reception following the presentation of the new campus initiative Oct. 1.

by Bailey Porter
LV Life Editor

The Institute for Multicultural Research and Campus Diversity has a new interim executive director following the resignation of program leader Derek Vergara.

Daniel Loera, multicultural affairs director of IMRCD, will be the interim executive director until the University opens a search to find a permanent replacement for Vergara.

"Daniel's philosophy on diversity in higher education is very sound and his passion for diversity comes from real life experiences," Vergara said in an e-mail interview.

One task that will be a focus of much of Loera's time is the Campus Diversity Initiative. The program will design college-specific databooks for each academic college that will be used as a "tool to improve institutional effectiveness for students from underserved populations," according to an IMRCD statement.

Loera said the initiative is critically important to the evolution of diversity on campus and will move the University from program centered to institutionalized efforts for working with diversity.

The four key components on which the initiative will focus are access, retention, campus climate and curriculum development.

Campus climate is an umbrella term, Loera said, for a comprehensive look at the day-to-day feel of diversity at the University.

"When the data is disaggregated by race/ethnicity, we are able to see disparities among the race/ethnic groups and develop intentional strategies to improve and lessen the gaps," Vergara said.

The goal is to support students with academic success, Loera said.

With a team leader, each college will participate in the process to determine what diversity support does or does not exist within the college. Student affairs will also participate so there is a model.

Vergara said this will allow faculty and staff to "look at the institutional data and create college-specific action plans to improve their delivery of service, especially to historically underrepresented students at ULV."

The CDI was authored by Vergara and Leticia Arellano, assistant professor of psychology, with input from the president, provost and the President's Steering Committee on Multicultural Initiatives.

Loera has found that his place in the implementation of the initiative

"A lot of what it means to me is really supporting the push forward with the grant," Loera said.

The CDI is funded by a three year grant from The James Irvine Foundation, a California based private, nonprofit grant-making foundation that supports a range of community development programs.

The CDI is a plan that few college campuses move toward, Loera said. Recently many cuts to funding such initiatives have been made in California; however, CDI is happening at ULV because University leadership and two prior grants have supported a foundation for conversation about a rigorous examination of campus diversity.

Loera said that the CDI is a real challenge for the institution. "It will mean taking a critical look at ourselves," he said. But the University is willing to face that challenge.

Before coming to ULV almost three years ago, Loera worked with the nonprofit human relations organization National Conference for Community and Justice.