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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943



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Event Highlights Opportunities at Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 15, 2017) – Accomplishments that have taken place over the past five months of operation, and future activities at the University of Central Missouri’s Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity (CMI) were shared by participants leading the center’s grand opening celebration Tuesday, Feb. 14, on the third floor of the Elliott Student Union.

This special event, which culminated in a ribbon-cutting, gave interested members of the campus and local communities an opportunity to tour the facility, enjoy refreshments, music, and listen to comments from individuals who were either instrumental in bringing the center into fruition, currently providing leadership at the CMI, or benefitting from the facility as students.

CMI Ribbon Cut
Joining University of Central Missouri President Charles Ambrose, center, for the ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 14 cerebrating the grand opening of Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity (CMI), were from left, Natalia Hernandez, vice president of  the Multicultural Student Outreach organization; Alesha Bowman, CMI outreach specialist; Tiana Key, MSO fundraising chair and  treasurer; Tara  Napoleone-Clifford, IDEAS coordinator for  the Office of Mentoring, Advocacy and Peer Support (MAPS); Ibrahim Alageel, president of the Saudi (Arabian) Student Club; Chasity Thomas, MSO president; and Kelsey Lane-Hatfield, MSO secretary.

Beginning its operations during the fall 2016 semester, the CMI is related to the university’s mission and core values, which include a commitment to attracting and supporting a diverse student body. It is situated in renovated space near the English Language Center, and has been developed by the Office of Mentoring, Advocacy and Peer Support (MAPS).

A UCM graduate and longtime employee of the university, Tara Napoleone-Clifford, IDEAS coordinator for MAPS, has been instrumental in overseeing CMI’s development. She said the CMI grew out of a need expressed by members of the Latino student organization and its allies on campus, and the concept was formulated by members of the MAPS team.

“We dug in and looked for ways to make collegiate life a little easier and perhaps a little more bearable for those students who were struggling,” Napoleone-Clifford said.  “But when we made discoveries in some areas, we fell short in others. We were learning about the campus from a completely different perspective – the students’ perspective. It was in these discussions that a need for a space for underrepresented students was voiced.”

“The students spoke and the administration at the University of Central Missouri listened – the Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity was created,” she said.

Student focused, CMI’s features include two classrooms which may be reserved by university organizations, organizational storage space, an office with four cubicles, high-definition televisions, Wi-Fi access, and tables, which can be used by students during meetings in the office or simply to relax and visit with friends.

In approving the name for the facility in August 2016, documents by UCM’s Board of Governors described the center as a campus unit “that leads and supports the development and facilitation of positive and proactive initiatives that increase access, opportunity equity, diversity, and inclusivity in all aspects of university life. Inherent in this charge is the intent to develop an awareness of social, political, cultural, and ethical issues in the belief that this awareness will lead to concern for, participation in, and improvement to society.”

The CMI works with underrepresented students and organizations across campus, Napoleone-Clifford said. It welcomes people of all backgrounds, identities and perspectives as the university strives to create an atmosphere in which all people feel welcome and secure.

Among students who are taking advantage of opportunities at the CMI is Ibrahim Alageel, a senior UCM student who serves as president of the Saudi (Arabian) Student Club. He told the gathering about how he came to the United States with limited English skills, and how university faculty and staff have contributed to his personal development and success. He praised the work of Napoleone-Clifford and Alesha Bowman, a UCM graduate who serves as the inaugural outreach specialist at CMI, in providing leadership for a facility that serves an important need for international students and others who are underrepresented on campus.

“I would like to thank Tara and Alesha for working with us at the center. You continue to teach us valuable life skills and I am very grateful,” Alageel said.

Bowman said although she knew her new role at CMI would be a challenge, she welcomed the opportunity, believing that this facility had some potential, and “that our students deserved someone who would be dedicated, work hard and give their all to help bring this space to life.”

She pointed  out that in five months of operation, the CMI has conducted many programs that benefit students. This includes sponsoring a solidarity table in which 150 signatures were collected to remember individuals who lost their lives through senseless acts of violence; conducting a diversity summit that allowed various multicultural groups an opportunity to learn about different cultures and get to know students who represent them; coordinating a de-stress event aimed at students who had concerns related to the 2016 elections; and campus safety week to inform students about safety resources at UCM.

Before he lead the ribbon cutting, UCM President Charles Ambrose stressed the importance of the work performed by the MAPS office to meet needs most often expressed by students.

“The Gallup organization has polled extensively over the last five years, and among the things students say that are most important is a mentor who makes a difference – someone who is on their side to help them be successful, and then the peer support that really drives the relationship you carry with you the rest of your life.”

He pointed out that approximately 50 percent of UCM’s students are first-generation students, the first in their families to attend college. This is in addition to many international students who bring a piece of the world to Warrensburg.

“One thing I am absolutely convinced of is that the world we’re living in is so interdependent, so multicultural, so global. We’re not going to unwind it, we’re going to create it from a place like this…that’s what the center is for,” Ambrose said. “It’s a place to gather to dream, to really think about what’s possible and then to ask for support to make mentoring, advocacy and peer support the standard for which your experience is driven here at UCM.”

Napoleone-Clifford said proposed future activities at the CMI include continued implementation of the online system to express concerns and offer suggestions, anonymously; student printing availability; providing laptops for students to use; and a “happy hour” that would provide music, motivational and informational activities, and food. All of these measures are designed to help build community through the CMI.

The CMI works with underrepresented students and organizations across campus. It welcomes people of all backgrounds, identities and perspectives as the university strives to create an atmosphere in which all people feel welcome and secure.

For more information about CMI, contact Napoleone-Clifford at napoleone@ucmo.edu or 660-543-4156, or  Bowman at abowman@ucmo.edu or 660-543-8049.