Groundbreaking, director search underway for new multicultural center


The University of Michigan hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday to officially launch construction on a new, $10 million William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center near the heart of Central Campus.

At the same time, a national search for a new Trotter director has been launched.

The center will serve students of many cultural identities and is planned to be a home dedicated to celebrating and fostering U-M’s diversity in a way that is inclusive and more visible.

“The new Trotter Multicultural Center will be a new hub of hope for our campus, one that unites us as a community around our most cherished values: the inseparable values of diversity, equity, inclusion and academic excellence for the public good,” says President Mark Schlissel.

President Mark Schlissel (right) discusses construction of the new William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center with WDIV-TV meteorologist Andrew Humphrey, a U-M alumnus and former student staff member for the Trotter Center. (Photo by Daryl Marshke, Michigan Photography)

Thousands of students participated in the visioning and design process of the new facility through surveys, meetings, interviews, trips to similar facilities at other institutions and town hall meetings for the student body.

Schlissel also thanked the Black Student Union, “whose engagement and activism over many generations are responsible in large part for this day becoming a reality.”

“This is truly a facility that has been designed not only for our students, but by them,” says Vice President for Student Life E. Royster Harper. “We are grateful for the students, many of whom are now recent graduates, who shared their experiences with our design team and lent their time and energy to this process.”

The proposed new building will be a 20,000-square-foot facility that will accommodate spaces from the current center and add a multipurpose room able to accommodate 300 people for banquets or conferences, and an active-learning, classroom-style configuration for 100 students.

The project is expected to be completed in winter 2019 and will be paid for with funds from investment proceeds and gifts.

The facility is being built along South State Street adjacent to the U-M Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. It will replace the current William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center, which sits off campus at 1443 Washtenaw Ave.

“While we celebrate a new Trotter Multicultural Center, we must always remember that the path here was not an easy one for many in our community,” Schlissel says. “It was a struggle marked by both the pain of discrimination and the challenge of ensuring social justice. It is also a journey that is not yet finished, here at U-M and within our larger society.”

Leo Thornton, a Trotter Center program assistant and upcoming graduate student in the School of Social Work, said he’s looking forward to seeing the difference the new facility will make.

“Being on Central Campus, right across from Angell Hall, where a lot of protests happen including on the Diag, I think it will be helpful to stay in the loop and connected to students and other community members.”

Meanwhile, Harper has appointed an advisory committee to help search for a new director of the center. The search process is underway.

Michael Swanigan is currently serving as interim director. He was director of the Trotter Multicultural Center in the 1990s and since then has served as director of Pierpont Commons on North Campus.

Marie Ting, associate director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity, is chairing the committee charged with conducting a broad search and presenting recommended candidates. Additional members of the search committee include:

• Sara Abelson, doctoral student, School of Public Health.

• Eduardo Batista, undergraduate student, Ross School of Business.

• Maria Cotera, director of Latina/o Studies, associate professor of American culture and associate professor of women’s studies, LSA.

• Glenn Eden, U-M alumnus.

• Jad Elharake, undergraduate LSA student.

• Joshua Flink, undergraduate LSA student.

• Lumas Helaire, associate director, Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives.

• Susan Pile, senior director, University Unions & Auxiliary Services.

• Derrick Scott, director of inclusion and multicultural engineering programs, Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach, College of Engineering.

• Stuart Segal, director, Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

• Stephen Ward, director of undergraduate studies, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, associate professor of Afroamerican and African studies and associate professor in the Residential College, LSA.

• Amber Williams, program manager, Community Action and Social Change Undergraduate Minor, School of Social Work.

To nominate prospective candidates or ask questions of the committee, send an email to [email protected].


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