Next year, the Multicultural Center (MCC), will welcome Dr. Gail Bourknight-Davis as its first associate director, a new position created as part of recent changes to the organizational structure of the MCC. The changes will also bring a new academic focus to the MCC under the leadership of Regina Kunzel, professor of history and next year’s faculty director.
Bouknight-Davis comes to Williams from Landmark College in Vermont, where she has been director of multicultural affairs since 1998. She earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Brown University and serves as a professor in the social science department at Landmark. Bouknight-Davis was selected for the position by a committee consisting of administrators, faculty members and students. Additional students who were not on the committee also met with candidates and provided contributions to the process. Many people in the community are confident that Bouknight-Davis will be an excellent addition to the MCC.
“Gail is an intensely intelligent, thoughtful person who listens carefully as she’s assessing situations, and we’re confident that she’ll do an excellent job in the position,” said Gail Newman, professor of German and interim director of the MCC.
The associate director’s job replaces the position of assistant director of the MCC, which was first held by Anita Doddi ’98 and then by Medha Kirtane ’00. The associate director will oversee all of the student support and student services that the center offers, such as Minority Coalition (MinCo) advising, the budget and MinCo-based programming.
Bouknight-Davis will also be responsible for organizing all of the heritage months held on campus. Though students will play a major role in setting up the events, such as choosing which speakers will come to campus, the MCC will handle most of the organizational work necessary to carry out student ideas. The MCC also hopes that the creation of this position will facilitate increased interaction with the student body.
“We hope the MCC under the new associate director will be able to provide even more support, leadership workshops, etc. for MinCo [Minority Coalition] students, as well as reaching out beyond MinCo to other individuals and groups on campus,” said Newman.
Kunzel will serve as the faculty director of the MCC next year and will focus on MCC involvement with academic concerns. In past years, the faculty director has had many administrative duties, but the hope is that creating Bouknight-Davis’s position will relieve Kunzel of many of those duties and allow a greater focus on academic issues.
“This exciting new component will involve, among other things, a major conference every other year as well as other intellectually- or artistically-oriented programming, significantly more contact with academic departments and with faculty in general and the development of the MCC into a resource center for multicultural curricular development and pedagogy,” said Newman.
The MCC is pleased that it will be able to expand its programs and student support next year. Students and faculty members alike are happy that the MCC is actively reaching out to students and addressing minority concerns in the academic departments.
“This is a good step toward the College committing itself to the adequate support of traditionally disenfranchised groups, and [I] hope that we as a community continue down this path by empowering Gail, the next faculty director and the MCC in general to help shape this community,” said Rory Kramer ’03, MinCo co-chair. MinCo is operated under the MCC’s auspices as an umbrella group for minority organizations on campus.