When Pacific University’s newly appointed Executive Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDEDI) first stepped foot on campus, she saw the need for more synchronized campus efforts. President Lesley Hallick officially named Narce Rodriguez to the EDEDI position on May 24, 2017, in an email sent to Pacific students, faculty and staff.
“I am thrilled that we found an incredibly highly qualified leader from right here in our Forest Grove community to join the Pacific team,” Hallick said in the email.
Rodriguez, who obtained a bachelor’s degree and master of arts in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in student services and women studies from Oregon State University, has worked in higher education for over 25 years. Most recently she worked as the Dean of Student Development at Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus.
According to Rodriguez, her passion for work in equity and diversity began in college and she has made it her life’s mission and goal to promote that lens in all aspects of here work and personal life. As the new EDEDI a number of new responsibilities have fallen upon Rodriguez, though she stressed, first and foremost, the position is student centered and driven.
“Any work I do here is in advocacy of supporting the students, as well as the faculty and other stakeholders,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of my work is going to involve looking at the systems we have in place on campus and ensuring that these systems are operating with an equity lens, and if they are not, how we can make them better.”
During her interviews with both students and the administration last year, while still competing for the EDEDI position, Rodriguez said she noticed a strong campus hope and want for equity and diversity work.
“There was a lot of diversity champions already here on campus, and a lot of work being done in equity, but the work wasn’t necessarily synchronized,” Rodriguez said. “I also noticed there could be some improvements made with policies and procedures from admissions, to accreditation and to all of the different pillars this institution has.”
Rodriguez officially began her work as the EDEDI on July 5, 2017.
“One big thing I’ve been doing here so far is investing in relationships,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez has made an effort to reach out to and connect with both past and present Pacific students to better hear their concerns and wishes for campus life moving forward into the future.
“One thing I often hear students say is they want to be able to have more crucial conversations on campus, in particular, the classroom,” Rodriguez said. “In particular, politically what is going on in the nation and what that means for students today.”
Rodriguez hopes to help navigate these politically charged conversations throughout the year and to help students express themselves and learn from others. As the EDEDI, Rodriguez is also currently in the process of helping to start up and reinvigorate the campus Multicultural Center, which is located on the first floor of Scott Hall.
“The Multicultural Center will be a place for students to be able to have a sense of belonging and to start brainstorming what they would like to do to bring more diversity and equity work to campus,” Rodriguez said.
Though the position is just beginning, Rodriguez looks forward to the year ahead as Pacific’s first EDEDI.
“My ultimate goal here is to assure that Pacific University, in collaboration with others, on a daily basis, will be fully engaged and committed to bringing forward the work of equity,” Rodriguez said. “My hope is to have those who are doing diversity work on campus come together, and for those who have not yet had the opportunity to know about this work, join us.”