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Conversation about campus diversity

Nicole Sirju-Johnson MPA ‘99, PhD ‘11: Campus Diversity, associate chief diversity officer

Alumna Nicole Sirju-Johnson MPA '99, PhD '11, is the associate chief diversity officer and the director of the Multicultural Research Center (MRC) at Binghamton. Nicole earned her master's in public administration and then went on to receive her PhD from Harpur College in political science. More recently, Nicole took some time to sit down with the undergraduate admissions team for a quick conversation about her role and the importance of campus diversity.

1. People are aware that diversity is important, but they can’t always articulate why. Why is it important to Binghamton?

As a university serving students and alumni from 50 states and 122 countries, with 28.9 percent of its enrollment being students of color and 16 percent international students, we are committed to creating a campus community free from violence, hate and bias. We believe that in order for Binghamton to be premier, graduates should be people who understand that cultural competency is important in their social, professional and political environments. Individuals who go into the workforce and are not culturally competent have a higher probability of either losing their jobs or not advancing in their fields because they are not able to be effective in any given environment.

2. What is the role of the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC)?

Binghamton has four goals regarding diversity: Increasing and supporting a diverse population; training faculty, staff and administration; offering support to all with special needs; and increasing a culture of diversity and inclusiveness across the campus community. The MRC furthers Binghamton's mission of inclusiveness through workshops, programs and services to represent historically underrepresented groups. We also work with the 70–100 different cultural organizations on campus. The MRC is part of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which also includes the Q Center that serves our LGBTQ community.

3. What is the benefit of having a diverse alumni base?

One of the benefits is that all types of students get to see people who have a similar background or look like them in positions of leadership. Our Alumni of Color Network was established to provide engagement opportunities - ties among alumni, students, faculty and staff of color and is a network that can be used by all of our students.

4. What makes Binghamton stand out from other colleges in its diversity efforts?

Binghamton is one of just a few institutions in the nation that devotes an entire division to diversity. At most institutions, you're likely to find services that are exclusive to minority students. Sometimes there’s just a chief diversity officer, whereas Binghamton has eight staff members devoted to this work. We have diversity educators. We have workshops that serve the professional development of every constituency group on our campus. We have ongoing communications and programming for students, faculty and staff.

Desiree Ford is a communications and marketing specialist at Binghamton University. She enjoys crafting messages that share Binghamton's story for prospective students and their families.

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