Meet Jennifer Ford: Jennifer Ford serves as the director of the Department of Multicultural Services and has been with the department since June 2007 when she began as the associate director. Prior to her transition to Multicultural Services, she worked for nine years in the Offices of the Dean of Student Life with the areas of off campus student services, adult and graduate student services, alcohol and drug education programs, gender issues education and new student programs. Ford received her master’s degree in higher education administration from Texas A&M and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma.
What do you see as the most important role of Multicultural Services?
Multicultural Services has two primary purposes. The first purpose is providing engagement and leadership services and opportunities for underrepresented students. The term underrepresented typically refers to African- American or black, Asian American, and Hispanic or Latino. This part of our mission is carried out primarily through the work with the 10 student organizations that are affiliated with the department. The second purpose is to provide diversity education programs that foster an inclusive learning environment for all students. These programs begin at New Student Conferences and continue through class and student organization presentations.
When did the department begin and how has it evolved since that time?
In 1986, Texas A&M University’s Division of Student Services Standing Committee on Minority Student Conditions, along with several student leaders, sought to establish an office committed to assisting ethnic minority students on the Texas A&M campus. Thus, the Multicultural Services Center was created and opened its doors in September 1987 as an office within the Department of Student Activities. The Center achieved department status on Dec. 1, 1989, and became known as the Department of Multicultural Services.
In its early years, departmental efforts focused on developing programs and services that provided targeted groups the opportunity to fully participate in leadership development opportunities and to be academically successful.
As the University recognized the need to prepare all students for a multicultural world through its mission and vision statements, the department expanded the mission to incorporate diversity education.
What are the Diversity Awards and how do they foster diversity on campus?
The Diversity Awards acknowledge and honor the efforts of students, faculty and staff who strive to promote understanding and appreciation of diversity in its multitude of forms at Texas A&M University.
How can an individual learn more about fostering diversity on campus?
The department sponsors a program entitled Community Conversations where students, faculty and staff come together to have a dialogue about current topics related to diversity. These programs usually happen around the lunch hour and occur six to seven times a semester. Student organizations and classes often request presentations from our diversity education team revolving around the intersection of diversity and the specific organization purpose or class topic.