Regina Kunzel, associate professor of history and chair of the American Studies program, will assume the duties of academic director of the Multicultural Center (MCC). The position of academic director is a new creation that takes on the academic and scholarly aspects of the former position of director of the MCC, presently held by Gail Newman, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of German. The administrative duties of the MCC directorship will be handed to Gail Bouknight-Davis, currently Director of Multicultural Affairs at Landmark College in Putney, Vt.
The splitting of the duties of the MCC directorship came out of the inability of previous MCC directors to devote enough time and energy to the work of scholarship and intellectual vibrancy in a multicultural context. According to Kunzel, the previous directors of the MCC have been swamped by working with students. Though students should be the focus, the MCC has decided that its intellectual face has been lacking. Kunzel’s scholarship in studying the connections between gender, sexuality and race and how those issues factor into broader questions of American history will go far in extending the intellectual reach of the MCC.
Kunzel comes to the position as a veteran of the College’s administrative machinery. Kunzel has been the Chair of the Steering Committee and has worked on the Committee on Educational Policy, the Committee on Diversity and Community and in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
“I’ve never done anything like [the MCC academic directorship], but I’ve done much with the College,” said Kunzel. She also noted that her various roles in the College have allowed her to “see the College from many angles that will allow me to steer the MCC in effective ways.”
Kunzel views it is her duty to “see the MCC get out of Jenness [House],” and said that the MCC should play a pivotal role in creating a College-wide discussion on issues of diversity. While the College has not committed resources to “make this conversation happen,” Kunzel is hopeful that such discussion can be achieved.
Kunzel listed three primary ways to create campus-wide discussion on diversity issues: bringing high-profile and local figures to speak on campus, holding debates and organizing conferences. Kunzel was unable to get into specifics on any of her three points, but indicated that some members of the College community have suggested using conferences to court graduate students looking for a place to work. Kunzel also stressed that faculty do not share their scholarship amongst each other. For Kunzel, the MCC can generate a venue for discussions that have been ignored or lost for lack of energy.
Kunzel said that she hopes to take diversity beyond the concept of “minority diversity,” suggesting that the College needs to look at diversity more broadly.
On the expansion of the size of the faculty, Kunzel said that the College “is on the brink of something. The College can either reproduce itself or do something novel and innovative.” She noted that the College has only made advances in tenured female faculty in its recent history. Kunzel also stated that the College can do more to diversify the faculty, pointing to increased diversification of the student body as an example of what the College can do when it puts its resources behind a goal.