History of the Department of Multicultural Services

In 1986, Texas A&M University’s Division of Student Services Standing Committee on Minority Student Conditions, along with several student leaders, sought to establish an office committed to assisting ethnic minority students on the Texas A&M campus. Thus, the Multicultural Services Center was created and opened its doors in September 1987 as an office within the Department of Student Activities. The Center achieved department status on December 1, 1989 and became known as the Department of Multicultural Services.

In its early years, the Department efforts focused on developing programs and services that provided targeted groups the opportunity to fully participate in leadership development opportunities and to be successful academically.

As the University recognized the need to prepare all students for a multicultural world through its mission and vision statements, a second mission for the Department, diversity education, became more formalized.

Contextual History of DMS

1986 – Texas A&M University’s Division of Student Services Standing Committee on Minority Student Conditions, along with several student leaders, worked to establish an office committed to assisting ethnic minority students on the Texas A&M campus.

1987 – Multicultural Services Center was created and opened in September, as an office within the Department of Student Activities.  The focus was on developing programs and services for targeted groups, to fully participate in leadership development opportunities and be academically successful.

First Minority Freshman Orientation, formally named Excellence uniting Culture Education and Leadership (ExCEL), was held. This initiative originated in 1984. ExCEL would become the department’s first sponsored-level student organization and signature initiative

– The Multicultural Services Office was housed on the first floor of Bizzell Hall.  A Coordinator and two support staff were hired

1988 – First Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference (SBSLC), which would not only become the department’s second sponsored-level student organization, but also the largest student-run conference of its caliber in the country

1989 – Center achieved department status on December 1st, became known as the Department of Multicultural Services, and Mr. Kevin Carreathers was named the first director.

– The Drive In For Diversity Conference was developed and renamed in 1995 to the Texas Higher Education Diversity Conference (THEDC) (discontinued in 2005)

1990 – Minority Enrichment and Development through Academic & Leadership Skills (MEDALS) launched as part of SBSLC, becoming the department’s third sponsored student organization and the largest student-run college exposure and outreach experience for high school students.  MEDALS, renamed Maximizing Educational Development through Academic & Leadership Skills in 2003, would impact over 12,500 high school students and over 1,500 high school counselors and parents across 24 years before financial sustainability issues became insurmountable.  MEDALS was discontinued in 2014 leaving the department with two sponsored-level student organizations.

1991 – University Awareness for Cultural Togetherness (U-ACT) was founded (renamed Aggies to Aggies in 2009)

– The Department moved from Bizzell Hall to Room 147 Memorial Student Center.

1992 – Native American Student Association (NASA) was established (discontinued from DMS sponsorship in 2003)

1993 – A second mission for the Department, focused on diversity education, became formalized because both the Division of Student Affairs and the Department of Multicultural Services felt that a peer-based Diversity Education approach had significant merit.  The Division of Student Affairs budgeted funds to establish the program resulting in a new department name and extended mission – Department of Multicultural Services and Office of Diversity of Education.

– Hispanic Presidents’ Council (HPC) was founded

– The first Whoopstock Unity Festival was held (discontinued in 2007)

1994 – Acquired Room 137 of the Memorial Student Center which became the main office for the Department.  Office of Diversity Education continued to be housed in Room 147 of the Memorial Student Center.

1995 – Diversity Training Institute (DTI) was developed (discontinued in 2016)

-Voices of the Civil Rights Movement Course & Tour was developed (discontinued in 2004)

– Enhanced the retention function of the development with a credited seminar focusing on study skills and the maintenance of one’s cultural identity called ExCEL Seminar.

1996 – ExCEL, a sponsored department student organization named as a campus bus route

1997 – The department grew to a full-time staff of 12.

1998 – Dr. Felicia Scott named the second director

Division recognized the need to merge Diversity Education functions under one department, so the department acquired the Diversity Education area from the Department of Residence Life.  Further, Diversity Education staff revised the teaching approach from a model of Inclusive Leadership to develop a model of Social Responsibility.  Responsibility is emphasized by looking beyond awareness and encouraging participants to develop action steps to work toward social justice.

– Room 026 of the Memorial Student Center is acquired for Department student organization workspace.

2000 – Asian Presidents’ Council (APC) was founded

– Renovations to Room 147 of the Memorial Student Center, expanded space for a resource library, staff offices and student organization workspace.  Room 026 is converted to the department’s first conference room.

2001 – Asian American Association (AAA) discontinued from DMS sponsorship (originally founded as a Texas A&M organization in 1985)

– Vietnamese American Student Association (VASA) discontinued from DMS sponsorship

2002 – Department and Office of Diversity Education missions were seamlessly aligned under one unit

 – African American Student Leadership Institute (AASLI) was developed (discontinued in 2015)

2003 – Institute for Development and Education of Asian American Leaders (IDEAAL) was developed

– Encouraging Respect, Acceptance and Support through Education (E “RA’S”E) was developed (DMS discontinued collaboration in 2007)

2005 – Black Student Alliance Council (BSAC) was founded

– Culture Leadership Understanding and Exploration for Scholars Learning Community for Sophomores (CLUES) was developed

2006 – Community of Respect Program was created in 2006, with DMS responsible since 2008

2007 – National search resulted in Dr. C.J. Woods being named the third director

– African American Male Collective was developed (renamed Aggie Black Male Connection in 2010)

2007 – Developed and defined a two-functional area structure – Engagement & Leadership & Diversity Education – including staff teams

2008 – Relocated to new space in response to a student, faculty and staff campaign for more visible and prominent space

– The first Fusion Fiesta was held

2010 – Ms. Jennifer Ford named the fourth director

– Diversity Certificate Program was developed

2012 – Department returned to the Memorial Student Center following a temporary move to the Koldus Building.  The renovated space incorporated a design to maintain visibility, provide student meeting spaces and maximize space for sponsored student groups

2013 – Latino Males United (LMU) was created

2015 – National search resulted in Dr. Tonya Driver being named the fifth director

2016 – Race, Identity, and Social Equity (RISE) Initiative was developed

-The Women of Color Courageous Conversations Series was developed

2018 – Latino Logrodores (LatiLo) was developed

* Special acknowledgment of the contributions of Dr. Rodney McClendon, Dr. Anne Reber, and Dr. Vanessa Diaz de Rodriguez as interim directors

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