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Celebrating 50 years of campus diversity with MEC

Celebrating 50 years of campus diversity with MEC

Shannon Shelton Miller January 07, 2020

The Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center at the University of Dayton, known on campus by the acronym MEC, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020 with a series of events to honor its past and celebrate its efforts to support multi-ethnic students and contribute to the educational, social and cultural development of all students on campus. Events will focus on the theme 50 Years of Vision, Critical Evaluation, and Action.

MEC adopted its current name July 1 to better reflect its mission, the nature of its work and the changing needs and diversity of the student body.

“Our name and our work are directly identified with the needs of our students,” said Daria-Yvonne Jackson Graham ’94, associate dean of students and executive director of multicultural affairs. “We have worked to consistently respond to our students and to critical issues of our times that affect our domestic ethnic student population.”

In addition to its continued support for historically underrepresented students, MEC will also work to highlight the vibrancy of all cultures through programming and collaboration with academic units, Graham said. The center will also create and support learning initiatives to increase students’ social justice competencies in alignment with the University’s Catholic, Marianist values.

Graham said more than two years ago administrators and staff noticed shifts in the nature of requests to the office and the needs of the students being served — including more academic collaborations to infuse diversity, inclusion and equity into the curriculum, more social justice initiatives and increased programming partnerships with other campus units.

The University has also seen a recent increase of 6 percentage points in the number of students of color.  In fall 2015, 9%, or 781 undergraduates, identified as students of color. Three years later, that percentage has risen to 15%, representing 1,245 students of color among 8,225 total undergraduates.

Since its establishment in 1970 as the African and Afro-American Program, the center has undergone multiple name changes in response to changing student demographics and societal transformation. The office became the Center for Afro-American Affairs in 1971, the Office of Minority Student Affairs in the mid-1980s and the Office of Diverse Student Populations in 1995, reflecting growth in the University’s Hispanic/Latinx student body.

The Office of Multicultural Affairs title was adopted in 2008 to reflect a wider focus on African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander students, and students with two or more identities.

The 2019 change to the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center was designed to address evolving trends in higher education and better align with the University’s role in the development of all students, Graham said.

“Our student body is more diverse and the ways in which we’re preparing our students to navigate in a diverse, global society require us to be more strategic and intentional in our efforts,” Graham said. “Our Marianist charism calls for us to always perform a critical evaluation of our times and be responsive to changes. It’s who we are as a University.”

For details on the anniversary events, visit udayton.edu/studev/dean/mec/index.php.
MEC 50th Anniversary Kickoff
Friday, Jan. 17
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Alumni Hall 101

MEC 50th Anniversary Recognition
Friday, March 27
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Kennedy Union Torch Lounge
MEC Race Teach-In
Friday, April 14
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Kennedy Union ballroom
MEC 50th Anniversary Gala
Thursday, Nov. 19
5 – 7 p.m.
The Dayton Art Institute

MEC and its mission