Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

MSDO moves forward with stabilized structure

Photo by John Muyskens

After a year of transitions in the Multicultural and International Student Development Offices (MSDO), both offices are now fully staffed and better equipped to support the AHANA and international student populations.

Over the past two years, there has been a high rate of staff turnover in these offices, especially the MSDO. Much of this is due to transitions in the structure of employment in the offices.

Last year, former vice president for student life Shirley Hoogstra invited Christina Edmondson to move from her position at the Broene Counseling Center into a role in the MSDO.

“I was asked to come over and offer assessment and stability, and ultimately a vision [for the office]. Not just my personal vision, but best practices,” said Edmondson.

Edmondson was specifically called on to determine whether the MSDO and ISDO would best be served by continuing with a program coordinator model in which each office was run by a different program coordinator, or whether they should return to an assistant dean model, which had been used in the past.

“I determined that they needed to go back to an assistant dean model because we needed someone in a position who could make authoritative decisions, who could do some of the logistical work, program planning, and assessments,” explained Edmondson.

With this model, the MSDO and the ISDO are each run by an assistant dean, and both are overseen by the dean of intercultural student development, a role Edmondson has taken on.

Edmondson explained that now the assistant deans are able to focus their time on supporting and serving their target populations of AHANA and international students, and that enables her to do more cultural competency work with all students on campus.

Because of this change in leadership structure, there were several new staff members hired this fall in the MSDO, including Khayree Williams, the assistant dean for multicultural student development, and Martin Avila, the coordinator of multicultural student development.

Williams has “a wealth of experience around anti-racism and diversity work,” said Edmondson. “He has an eye for programming and a strong sense of ways to help connect students to the best practices that actually help them to succeed.”

For Williams, who began his work here in the early fall, the focus of the MSDO is very much on students. “We want to make sure all students are comfortable, feeling like they’re valued in the Calvin community and have a place where their voice is being heard,” he said.

Martin Avila, the MSDO’s other recent hire, is a 2013 Calvin grad who was previously teaching at a high school.

Avila explained his job as being a connector between different groups on campus: “I’m the bridge between students and faculty and staff, and all the departments at Calvin.”

Moving forward with these new staff members, both offices are keeping their focus on how best to support and advocate for AHANA and international students.

“Our end goal is engaging students, bringing them here to the MSDO, and making them realize there’s a center here for them,” said Avila.

Edmonson points out that although the MSDO and ISDO do important work at Calvin, it’s also essential for students to be connected to resources through a variety of offices that can support them.

“[We are] well aware of issues that impact these students,” she said. “But we’re only one ingredient of this large puzzle that it takes for any student to be successful.”

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