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January 16, 2013

Michelle Thompson-Taylor to direct Intercultural Center

The University has appointed Michelle Thompson-Taylor as the director of the new Intercultural Center. Thompson-Taylor will promote engagement and collaboration among students, faculty, and staff in Arts, Sciences & Engineering. She assumes the position Jan. 16.

Thompson-Taylor joined the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid in 2004. There she served as an admissions counselor, recruiting students from the United States and Jamaica. Thompson-Taylor also led many of the office’s community relations efforts, including the National Hispanic Institute’s Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session, which annually brings about 150 high school students from across the United States and Mexico to campus to participate in a mock legislative session. She also coordinated the University’s involvement in the College Horizons program, which provides current sophomores and juniors who are American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian with the opportunity to interact and build relationships with admissions counselors. Locally, Thompson-Taylor worked with the Rochester Urban League, where she helped facilitate the University’s Jesse Moore Urban League Scholarship. 

“Michelle has tremendous energy and enthusiasm for this work,” says Richard Feldman, dean of the College. “Through her experiences in admissions, she is in a good position to collaborate with students from all backgrounds and help them build connections.”

Thompson-Taylor will report to both Beth Olivares, associate dean for diversity initiatives, and Matt Burns, dean of students. Because the center is in the early stages of formation, Thompson-Taylor will spend several months on a listening tour, engaging students, faculty, and staff in conversations about the current cultural climate and issues and needs that the center can address.   

As the center’s director, Thompson-Taylor will catalog diversity and culture-related efforts across the University, with a specific focus on Arts, Sciences & Engineering, develop cocurricular activities focused on multiculturalism, and partner with departments on intercultural events that supplement the classroom experience. As the undergraduate population continues to grow and change, identifying students whose needs aren’t yet being met and developing resources to address those needs will be of particular importance, Burns says.

“I’m excited to be able to lead a center that can help address the needs and concerns of our students but can also convey the cultural identity of campus,” Thompson-Taylor says. “It’s my hope that this will be a long-term collaborative space where students, staff, and faculty who have an interest in intercultural affairs can share resources and create opportunities for a better understanding of the campus culture and its needs.”

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