Shakeer Abdullah: Creating A Multiculturally Competent

Shakeer Abdullah, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice President for
Equity and Diversity, UMTC
Higher Education Recruitment
Consortium Spring 2014 Joint
Membership Meeting
Shakeer A. Abdullah, PhD
Assistant Vice President for Equity and Diversity
University of Minnesota
 Supports the Chief Diversity Officer and provides vision
and guidance to our student-driven units while offering a
creative voice on pre-college access, recruitment,
retention, academic success, and graduation. In addition
to those duties, will also offer a commitment to our
campus relations, community initiatives, external
relations, and alumni development.
 An emerging practitioner-scholar with publications in the
area of multicultural competence and other areas.
Research interests include African American men, the
experiences of diversity services staff, and Muslim student
identity development.
 Remains an active national presenter, consultant, and
trainer. Currently serves as the Vice President for the
Association For Black Cultural Centers.
 Doctor of Philosophy in Administration of Higher
Education from Auburn University, Master of Arts in
Higher Education and Student Affairs from the Ohio State
University, Bachelor of Arts in Management from
Wittenberg University. Education includes international
study in Lumbadzi, Malawi and participation in programs
at the University of Cairo (Cairo, Egypt) and Lancaster
University (Lancaster, England).
• Background of the study
• A bit of UMTC History
• OED Org Chart
• Literature review
• Methods
• Findings
• Implications for the field
UMN History
• The University of Minnesota graduated its first African American
student, Andrew Hilyer in 1882.
• The University of Minnesota College of Medicine and Surgery’s first
graduating class of 23 students included two women.
• The first black medical student, Walter B. Holmes, graduated in 1895.
• January 15, 1969 Morrill Hall Takeover
• Led to the creation of African American and African Studies
department in1969 (one of the first in the Country)
UMN History
Office for
Equity and Diversity
May 2014
Vice President
Vice Provost (.5 FTE)
Vice President
Vice President
Vice Provost
Disability Resource Center
Business and Community
Economic Development
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, Ally
Programs Office
Disability Services
for Diversity
Donna Johnson
in Graduate
Office of Equal Opportunity
and Affirmative Action
Office for
Conflict Resolution
Multicultural Center for
Academic Excellence
Institute for Diversity,
Equity and Advocacy
Women’s Center
North Star
STEM Alliance
Retention Initiatives
Cultural Competence Experience Required
• Demonstrated experience and an ongoing commitment to working
effectively with and across diverse communities: including people of color,
underrepresented groups and new immigrant populations; American
Indians; people with both visible and invisible disabilities; women; people
of various gender and sexual identities and expressions; and firstgeneration students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
• UC San Diego and other institutions
• Diversity Statements on Faculty Applications
My Research
• Purpose
• Desire to measure multicultural competence of diversity staff
• Wanted to learn about the things that contribute to MCC and
interest in diversity services
• Desire to find out who is best prepared to do this work
• All responses were self-reported and the possibility exists that
some respondents may inflate their credentials. The impact of selfreporting may also have a negative effect on the multicultural
competency scores derived from the MCSA-P-2 (Pope and Mueller,
• Limited to the members of NASPA, ABCC and people who qualify
to be members of NASPA and ABCC
• That the respondents provided honest answers to the survey and
demographic profile form
• That diversity services staff are interested in being multiculturally
competent in order to best serve their diverse student body and
campus community
• That institutions are serious about living up to their missions and
meeting their stated diversity goals
• Finally, I assumed the participants were familiar with the field of
diversity services
• Background of the study
• Literature review
• Methods
• Findings
• Implications for the field- AKA- “Why being a person of color is not
• History of diversity services
• Experiences of diversity staff
• Multicultural competency
History of Diversity Services
1960-1977 Black
student enrollment
in higher education,
increased from less
than 250,000
students to more
than 1 million.
Title IV of the Higher
Education Act of 1965
Amendments of 1968
readjustment act of 1972
(GI Bill) led to increased
access for Black students
1968 student protest
as SFSU led creation
of 1st black Studies
Dept. and set the
stage for campus
protest and the
creation of diversity
offices in higher
1990’s saw expansion
of diversity services
from primarily serving
Black students to
embracing a broader
range of students
including women,
Latino, and GLBT
Experiences of Diversity Staff in Higher
• Multicultural myth (Longerbeam, Sedlacek, & Balon 2005)
• Staff contributing to students’ sense of being at home away
from home seen as an essential function for diversity staff
(Strayhorn, Terrell, Redmond & Walton 2010)
• Professional isolation and marginalization (Sutton and
McCluskey-Titus 2010, Wallace, Ropers-Huilman, & Abel
• Staff assumes multiple and varied roles (Longerbeam,
Sedlcek & Balon 2005)
• Lack of professional and academic preparation for diversity
positions (Jenkins 2010)
Multicultural Competency
• Multicultural competence is the awareness, knowledge, and skills needed
to work with others who are culturally different from self in meaningful,
relevant, and productive ways and to address cultural issues with someone
who is culturally similar to you (Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller 2004)
• Sue et. al. (1982) introduced multicultural competency in counseling
• Pope & Reynolds (1997) and others have since adapted the theory for
higher education
• Pope and Mueller (2000) created the MCSA-P2 tool to measure
multicultural competence in student affairs staff after modifying the
• MCSA-P2 measures general multicultural competence (Pope, Reynolds, &
Mueller 2004)
• More than any other variable, a knowledge of diversity is correlated with
increased multicultural competence (Castellanos, Gloria, Mayorga, and
Salas 2007)
Research Design
• Survey method
• Demographic information form
• Open ended question about diversity services field
• Instrument validated via pilot study
• Electronic data collection
Population and Sample
• NASPA and ABCC members or those eligible for membership who
work in diversity services across the country
• N= 808 Diversity staff across the country
• n=155 responses for a response rate of 19%
Data Collection
•Surveys were distributed via
•Data were collected electronically
Data Analysis
• Demographic data was analyzed and compiled for reporting
• Qualitative data was analyzed using ATLAS.ti 5.0 2nd Edition to
determine relevant themes
• Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS
Education Level
• The respondents were highly educated with 86.6 percent
possessing a master’s degree or higher. Slightly less than half (47.1
percent) of the respondents indicated that they were first
generation college students. The respondents ranged in age from
Reported Gender
Racial Demographics
Asian/ Asian American
African American/ Black
Religious Identity
Sexual Identity
Lesbian 2%
Years in position
10 plus
0 to 2
6 to 10
2 to 5
Time Spent Abroad
More than 5 years
1-5 years
Less than one month
more than one year
six months to a year
one to six months
Qualitative Themes
Need for professional development
• “there is no formalized training to be a Diversity Officer. It is a
‘baptism by fire’ profession.”
Qualitative Themes
Passion for diversity work
• “in my experiences, I have noticed that not only is cultural
competence required to be an effective diversity staff person, but it
is also vital for staff members to feel passionately about serving
and helping the student populations that they work with.”
Qualitative Themes
Professional isolation
• “It is shameful that even higher administrative positions such as
Diversity CEOs are isolated and often relegated to deal with
minority issues only or still referred to the individuals and
departments that are responsible for combating racism and equity
on campus.”
Qualitative Themes
Job related stress
• “how we approach it, it can cause extra unwanted stress on the
overall vision and mission of the unit.”
Qualitative Themes
Leadership issues
• “who we work for in a supervisory level impacts our ability to do
the work needed for our institutions and many times supervisors
who do not accept the research about racial inequities can
marginalize and negate our work.”
Qualitative Themes
Professional recognition
• “I fear diversity work is now out of vogue in university settings, but
I do not believe the need for or value of that work has diminished at
Qualitative Themes
Increased resources
• “it is a highly politicized and underpaid position, considering the
education, skill sets, and stress required to be good in these roles.”
Analysis of Findings Related to
Research Questions
• Question 1-Which demographic characteristics of the respondents
correlate with high multicultural competence scores?
• This study also found that personal demographic characteristics
were not statistically significant in determining multicultural
competence scores.
Analysis of Findings Related to
Research Questions
• Question 2- How significant are personal characteristics (ie. age,
gender, race/ethnicity, sexual identity, religious identity) when
compared with formal education and professional experience in
determining multicultural competence scores?
• The findings of this study indicate that people who have at least a
bachelor’s degree and have a graduate degree in any field other law
are more likely to have statistically significant higher multicultural
competence scores than others in the sample.
Analysis of Findings Related to
Research Questions
• Question 3- Is there any difference in multicultural competence in
respondents on the basis of the following identities; gender,
ethnicity, educational level, socioeconomic status growing up,
religious identity, sexual orientation, years working in diversity, age,
and first generation college status?
• There also was no statistically significant difference in multicultural
competence between genders, ethnicity, socioeconomic status
growing up, religious identity, sexual orientation, years working in
diversity, age, or first generation college status.
• The literature states that ongoing and continuous training for
diversity staff is essential, however my findings show that this is not
taking place.
• While higher education institutions strive to prepare students to
thrive in a global society, diversity officers are not viewed as being
helpful in achieving that goal.
• The idea that a person’s ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion,
or sexual identity makes them qualified to serve as diversity staff is
not sustained by this study.
Professional Development
• Professional development opportunities related to diversity should
be ongoing for staff at all levels in diversity services
• Conversations about issues of difference should be encouraged
• Understanding of the community dynamics is important
• Professional conferences related to diversity issues should be made
available to staff at all levels in diversity services offices
Diversity Courses in Higher Education
• Diversity courses should be mandatory for higher education
• Higher education programs are designed to prepare
institutional staff and leaders and a lack of required diversity
courses leaves graduates unprepared to address issues of
diversity on their respective campuses.
• Diversity courses should be made available to all diversity
• Community Connections should be emphasized and used in
recruiting faculty, staff, and students
• There is much more to learn about multicultural competence and diversity staff in
higher education. This study provides some insight into the academic, personal,
professional experiences and multicultural competence of diversity staff in higher
education, but it cannot address the entire range of experience of diversity staff
in the field.
• If institutions are truly committed to achieving their missions and goals related to
diversity and global engagement, then they should hire and train staff who want
to and are capable of educating their staff and student body on issues of diversity
and multiculturalism.
• We now know that more coursework and access to professional development is
needed to help produce more multiculturally competent diversity staff in higher
education. We also know that a commitment to diversity is as important as any
training or background traits in helping to identify strong candidates for diversity
services positions.
More Information
• Shakeer A. Abdullah, PhD [email protected]
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