The Mosaic Cultural Institute has changed directors within its administration.
Intercultural Development Director Keisha Bentley recently left to pursue her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. Bentley was involved with many programs within the Mosaic Cultural Institute, including mentoring first generation students.
“Keisha worked for the Institute for four years,” said Executive Director Maria Grandone-Llorente. “It was always a goal for her to go back to school and get her doctorate.”
Bentley, who received a full ride to Penn State, also taught psychology classes at ULV.
Associate Professor of Psychology Raymond Scott worked together with Bentley on workshops such as sexual orientation and religion.
“It’s a great loss to the University,” Scott said about Bentley leaving.
Scott notes that Bentley was a “wonderful interface of student representation on terms of voicing needs to the administrations and faculty.”
Scott served as a consultant to Bentley on Sister’s Circle, a support and educational group for African American women at the University.
Recently hired Director of Education and Assessment Anthony Hernandez was able to meet with Bentley before she departed.
“We sat down and talked for four hours,” Hernandez said. “I recognized that she was leaving but I didn’t want her to go.”
Hernandez appreciated Bentley’s passion about issues concerning diversity. They had similar experiences.
Bentley followed the philosophy, “Investigating the nuances of your own culture is the first step to understanding and acknowledging the culture of others.”
“I really feel that she was a huge asset,” Hernandez said. “She really did a lot, I see her impact everywhere.”
The Mosaic Cultural Institute is broadening its focus from students to include faculty and stake holders in the community.
Hernandez started working with the MCI over the summer to help out with statistics and assessment.
“Diversity and multiculturalism affects all of us,” Hernandez said. “We’re considering playing a supportive role in mentoring junior faculty, especially those of color.
“These faculty members generally have a hard time their first year,” he added. “Many of them arrive without knowing anyone working at the University. We just want to reach out to them and make them feel supported.”
It is important for faculty to be knowledgeable about their students. In administration, diversity is important, Hernandez said.
“The assumption is that when students come they’re on a level playing field,” Hernandez said.
He acknowledged that some students are more advanced than others.
“As a teacher I would want to know which students are advantaged,’ he added.
“Having an appreciation for diversity and culture seems necessary if you’re going to realize the relationship between student and instructor,” Hernandez said.
As the director of education and assessment, Hernandez is mostly focused on grant writing and bringing in sufficient funding for the multicultural purposes.
Hernandez notes that MCI has been successful in bringing in financial support. MCI has brought in $1 million in five years.
Hernandez took an opportunity to meet with students as he sat in on a student leadership meeting.
“When I go to these different meetings I try to get a sense of what would have been their purposed solution in the past and why they haven’t worked, “ Hernandez said.
He is around the campus meeting with students, especially those of color, to learn what students need.
“I talked to them about what concerns them,” he said.
Hernandez is committed to students, Grandone-Llorente said.
Hernandez expressed that some administration may have forgotten that the mission of the University is centered around the students.
Additionally, he believes that others need to recognize that college is an important stage for students.
“This position is important to me to see how we can make these plans and how we can make them work,” Hernandez said. “It’s all about learning. I’m interested to know how we can see merit in diversity and multiculturalism.”
Hernandez is interested in the MCI because it centers around equity and access issues, which is a constant theme throughout education.
But, he is also interested in many other diversity issues including the study of civil rights, urban policy and minority opportunity.
Hernandez was a senior analyst and part of UCLA’s “UC ACCORD: UC All Campus Consortium On Research for Diversity.” At UCLA, Hernandez studied patterns in Latino and African-American students and how the interaction between students and faculty influences each other.
Hernandez also volunteers as an adviser to the Teach Academy program at Century High School in Santa Ana.
Hernandez received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University.
Hernandez is at La Verne only until December, although the MCI is hoping to keep him throughout the school year.
“I hope to make an impact,” Hernandez said.
Alexandra Lozano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.