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CMA undergoes restructuring

Since the University decided not to merge the CMA and the International House, the CMA has hired two new program coordinators.
Since the University decided not to merge the CMA and the International House, the CMA has hired two new program coordinators.

Since the cancellation of the merger of the Center for Multicultural Affairs and the International House, the CMA has undergone significant changes in a “rebuilding process.”

Although the merger was postponed and ultimately stopped following widespread student outcry, the CMA, formerly known as the Multicultural Center, has restructured its leadership and instituted several new programs.

Two new CMA program coordinators have been hired—the first, Carla Rodriguez, started this past month and has met with several student groups. The second coordinator will start in January, interim CMA director David Pittman said.

“We are continuing with some of the same programs and services we’ve offered in the past and are looking to new programs and activities based on the experience of the new [hires],” he said.

Pittman, who is also associate director of Student Life, said he stepped in last Spring to help the CMA run smoothly when it was short-staffed after the departure of two staff members.

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said permanent plans for the leadership structure of the CMA have not been completed.

“The leadership is still something we are working on, it’s not clear what the long-range organizational structure [will be],” Moneta said. “What is clear is that the staff of the [CMA] always will be critical and always will continue.”

Zoila Airall, assistant vice president for student affairs, said the CMA’s budget included the addition of the two program coordinators this year.

Moneta said no budget cuts were made during the restructuring process. But last year, The Chronicle reported that two positions were eliminated during the restructuring as part of an effort to trim the University’s budget.

In the process of the proposed merger, CMA Staff Specialist Juanita Johnson lost her job in January. In a November 2009 interview, she told The Chronicle that both she and former CMA Director Julian Sanchez were dismissed from Duke.

Moneta said Wednesday that Sanchez retired. Sanchez could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

In the past, Sanchez has not commented on his departure from Duke. In a January e-mail, he reflected positively on his experiences at the University.

“I am very lucky to have had the best job on campus working on the most important agenda,” he wrote. “One of my dear students reminded me recently that all things happen for a reason. I as a result see the glass half-full.”

When the merger was announced last November, Moneta was on a sabbatical in Croatia. As a result, Airall frequently spoke with students and The Chronicle about the merger.

Pittman said the CMA is well underway in its reorganization, pointing to a variety of developments, including biweekly conversations about relevant topics, a new website and an updated brochure. He added that more programs will be instituted next semester.

In February, officials formed a Study Team on Multicultural and International Distinctions and Intersections composed of students, faculty to provide recommendations to Student Affairs about the roles of the CMA and International House

The team recommended that Student Affairs reduce divisions between the organizations and “create an umbrella administrative unit (Crossroads International and Multicultural Center) designed to address intersections, crossroads, and common ground.”

Moneta said it is too early to tell how these recommendations will be implemented, but added that administrators from the CMA and International House regularly meet with each other.

“I see exactly the thing we hoped would happen taking place,” he said. “In some ways, the structural conversation [in November 2009] distracted from the more important conversation... [of] what are the genuine needs of a community where students fit in with more than one identity.”

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