New affinity groups focus on faculty, staff of color

Natalia Gomez and Carlos Rodriguez are co-chairs for an affinity group for Latino faculty and staff members.
Natalia Gomez and Carlos Rodriguez are co-chairs for an affinity group for Latino faculty and staff members.
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A new diversity affinity organization has been created for Latino faculty and staff members, and there are plans to create similar groups for faculty and staff members of color.

Partners in this initiative are the Division of Inclusion and Equity and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Sean Huddleston and Connie Dang have begun conversations with potential leaders for affinity groups for Asian and Black faculty and staff members.

Huddleston, assistant vice president for Strategic Implementation, said Grand Valley has a history of creating support groups for students of color and this initiative builds from that model.

“The university is a good position, coming off the recent climate study, to convene these groups and give them the support they need to take the lead and make the groups their own,” he said.

The Latin@ Affinity Group is co-chaired by Natalia Gomez, professor of Spanish, and Carlos Rodriguez, associate dean of technology and information resources for University Libraries.

Rodriguez said the group has about 20 active members with a listserve of about 100 people.

Gomez said the Latin@ Affinity Group could aid in recruitment and retention of faculty and staff members. “I hope that we’re working visibly as a group to meet our goals of helping Latino faculty promote their successes, and helping them find their niche on campus,” she said.

The Latin@ Affinity Group will also support the Latino Student Initiative by collaborating on programming and projects.

Dang, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, is leading efforts of the new Latino Student Initiative. “I look forward to collaborating with the Latin@ Affinity Group on programming and activities to support students,” she said.