History of the dCenter
Although the physical space of the dCenter was created in 2001, the story of diversity and social justice at PLU and its various incarnations is one spanning over 30 years. Since the 1970s, PLU has had personnel and financial resources dedicated to advancing issues of diversity and over the years, PLU has addressed social justice issues in a variety of ways.
PLU sees an influx of Black and Non-Traditional Students who eventually form the University’s first Black Student Union.
Student Peer Advisors hired for the first time, one for each major ethnic minority represented on campus (Black, Asian-Pacific Islander, Latino, Native American).
MICA, the Multi-ethnic-International-Commuter-Adult student center is formed. Headed by Christina Del Rosario, the Center houses various resources on campus related to diversity, including Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO).
That same year President William O. Rieke affirms the University’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity by establishing the Rieke Leadership Award. Recipients of the award are men and women of any ethnic background who demonstrate their leadership in promoting racial and ethnic diversity at Pacific Lutheran University and beyond.
ASPLU hires its first Diversity Director.
The University Diversity Committee forms two years later in 1994 to address issues of diversity in the life of the University.
In line with the University Diversity Committee’s plans, two Diversity Classes (Perspectives on Diversity) Alternative Perspectives (A) and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (C) become required for graduation.
MICA is rearranged into Student Involvement and Leadership, SIL, becoming the hub for campus programming and student leadership.
The first Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs is hired. The primary focus for this position is programming diversity related events for students and the university.
Fall of 2001, the new Diversity Center, located on the lower level of the University Center, was founded. Teal and turquoise paint, gently used television, comfortable chairs and a couch—all the ingredients for a new student-centered space. The dCenter also brought a change in student leadership. Student Peer Advisors were replaced with student Diversity Advocates. The change redirected the focus of student leaders from working with specific ethnic groups to all PLU students.
The Inaugural Students of Color Retreat is held at Camp Burton. Now a tradition, the retreat serves as the dCenter’s most popular outreach program centered purely on issues of race and sense of belonging on campus. Following the success of the SOC Retreat, The Queer Student Retreat is developed.
The dCenter and SIL see changes in leadership. Eva Frey Johnson, the Center’s first Associate Director, is promoted to SIL’s Director. Erin Dana is hired for the 04-05 year as The Diversity Center Programs Coordinator and Lisa Doyle replaces Dana for the 05-06 year.
Angie Hambrick is hired as the University’s second Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs. Since her hiring, the dCenter has seen a rise in activity, including a steady rise of Rieke Scholarship awards and continued programming. She expanded the scope of dCenter programming and services to include sexuality, socio-economics, issues of first generation college students, and issues of diversity as they relate to all students, faculty, and staff.
In 2012, The Diversity Center expanded its work further to include Commuter Students, Transfer Students, and Veterans and hired Programs Coordinator, Nicole Juliano. Under Nicole’s leadership, The Diversity Center established two new student spaces – The Cave and Kreidler Commuter Lounges. Nicole has also worked on peer diversity and social justice education and is an additional support person for diversity and social justice initiatives on campus.