Multicultural Leadership Center Celebrates Grand Opening
Posted on October 14, 2022
The transformation of the newly renovated Multicultural Leadership Center at the University of South Alabama is designed to be a welcoming, engaging, supportive and inclusive environment for students. A grand opening was held Friday.
“We want all our students to feel safe and important when they enter this space,” said Jarmora Valrie, director of the Multicultural Leadership Center. “We are intentional about supporting our students and making sure they are successful. This space is a great place for students to connect and be uplifted to achieve their academic goals and build life-long memories. We are grateful to President Jo Bonner, Dr. Michael Mitchell, administrators and Daniel Greer and his team from Facilities for this great space for our students.”
The Multicultural Leadership Center is beautifully decorated with comfortable furnishings for gathering, along with office and meeting rooms for members of eight University organizations. The interior walls of the facility are lined with colorful art work and messages to inspire and empower students and all who visit the space.
“So often I hear from students that our University feels like home,” said Bonner. “We want to make sure all our students have that sense of belonging, and the new Multicultural Leadership Center supports that effort. This building underwent a significant transformation, but the real showcase is what’s inside – the people and the programs. This is about building community.”
A program and ribbon-cutting ceremony welcomed guests into the new space, where they could see the artistic work of Cameron Grier-Shepperd, a graduate assistant in the Multicultural Leadership Center at South.
“It has been an honor to share my creative gifts to inspire and uplift other students,” he said. “It has been a true labor of love from creating the artwork to inscribing inspirational messages on the walls. I am grateful to Mrs. Jarmora for giving me this great opportunity.”
A unique painting is being donated to the Multicultural Leadership Center by USA Trustee Margie Tuckson. She was viewing art pieces in an online gallery several years ago and saw a painting created by James E. Kennedy, a retired faculty member, who is now professor emeritus of art and art history. He taught at South Alabama for nearly 30 years. This particular work, “American Coverup,” was owned by the Johnson Publishing Company and was from the offices of Ebony and Jet Magazines.
“When I saw this artwork created by Mr. Kennedy, I had to buy it, not knowing that at some point, I would donate it to the Multicultural Leadership Center at my alma mater,” she explained. “But, it’s the perfect home for this great piece of artwork. I know the students will be inspired and encouraged by his work.”
This center formerly operated under the name Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. In the heart of campus, it will serve students with an open-door policy.
“The Multicultural Leadership Center is an example of what we can do for all students to increase their sense of belonging and connection to the University,” said Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Dr. Michael Mitchell. “When I walked into the renovated space for the first time, I had such an overwhelmingly positive reaction. I immediately knew that everyone who sees the space would know that it was envisioned with students in mind.
Guests and students toured the building at the grand opening. Already, the building is offering opportunities for collaboration and community building.
“When the students walk through our doors, we stop to make sure we take care of their needs,” Valrie said. “We put everything aside. The students are our first priority. Currently, we provide donated lunch meals every Thursday. This is a great time for students to enjoy and take a break in a supportive environment. What we need for our students now are faculty and staff mentors. The students need our support.”
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