SUNY Cortland’s Multicultural Life Office recently expanded its name to Multicultural Life and Diversity and hired its first assistant director, former Onondaga Community College (OCC) residence hall director Lyndon Huling.
The changes reflect the broader scope of the office’s responsibilities, said C. Gregory Sharer, vice president for student affairs.
Noelle Chaddock Paley, SUNY Cortland’s director of multicultural life and diversity and an adjunct professor in Africana studies and philosophy, observed, “In the last two years, we have gained an institutional visibility and function that has become a sustainable energy on campus which is reflected in the restructuring of the office.
“The addition of ‘diversity’ to the office title is in line with national trends in higher education. I chose to keep ‘multicultural life’ in the title because I have an appreciation for the history of multicultural life and diversity at SUNY Cortland and wished to not lose that history and to be respectful of the hard work of those who came before me.”
Paley said the July 1 name change highlights a core aspect of the College’s mission.
“We believe diversity is an essential part of the pursuit of academic excellence and it enriches and strengthens the community,” Paley observed. “Sharing diverse experiences and perspectives aids in the creation and sustaining of an inclusive campus community of engaged scholars and global citizens.
“Diversity consists of understanding and accepting our individual differences and the searching for that which we have in common. Diversity work is about the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive and nurturing environment. It is respecting each other, struggling together and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity.”
Huling, of Syracuse, N.Y., began his duties as assistant director of multicultural life and diversity on June 29.
Since July 2010, he had served as a residence hall director for OCC, where he took part in multicultural and diversity programming and training. He served on heritage month committees marking the accomplishments and history of African Americans and Native Americans. He also coordinated a panel discussion, film and dinner for more than 350 students on the subject of gang violence and helped implement a campus-wide Native American history quiz.
Huling has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California at Davis, where he completed minors in human development and education. As a student, he gained multicultural experience in working with learning communities.
He received a Master of Arts in Education Administration with a specialization in student affairs from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.
As an assistant residence community coordinator at California State University at Chico from July 2009-10, he oversaw the development, programming and sustainability of seven learning communities including Honors Houses, the Sustainability/Environmental House, the Project MATH House, the Natural Sciences building and the International House. As a campus staff member, he was frequently recognized for the quality of his service to students.
His graduate fieldwork at the University of the Pacific included 120 hours spent developing diversity-related campus initiatives, including an inter-American Spanish immersion program. He also served as a graduate residence hall director there. The University’s Department of International Programs and Services presented Huling with its 2009 International Campus Citizen Award.
“I hope to not only be an educator and supporter for those students who faced similar struggles as my own, but also be able to promote the idea that ‘diversity’ does not just belong to students from underrepresented backgrounds,” said Huling, who, as an inner-city student in California, experienced oppression, poverty and other barriers many students face in education today.
“Everyone is diverse, and every student should recognize this in themselves and strive to embrace this idea in their everyday lives,” he noted.
The Division of Student Affairs has sought to encourage cultural diversity in campus life through staff and programming since the late 1980s, when a half-time position was first created in the Residence Life program, noted Raymond Franco, who led the division before his current appointment as the College’s vice president for institutional advancement.
Marcia Moody served as the first multicultural life coordinator. She assisted students from an office on the third floor of Van Hoesen Hall while also serving part time as the Whitaker Hall coordinator. The multicultural life position was made full-time two years later. Moody and future heads of the office reported directly to the vice president for student affairs.
Successive generations of coordinators, co-coordinators and directors also managed and scheduled the adjacent Student Support Center. Originally housed nearby in Van Hoesen Hall, the center would eventually become the Voice Office, which currently houses seven multicultural clubs in a room off Corey Union’s main lobby. The Voice Office remains under the supervision of the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office.
In December 2010, Paley was named the second director of multicultural life and diversity, a role she had filled on an interim basis since June 2009.