Next associate vice chancellor for student affairs and CDI dean announced
Mark Kamimura-Jimenez will begin his tenure as the next associate vice chancellor for student affairs and the new dean of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Jan. 1.
He will succeed Emelyn Dela Pena, who left Washington University in August and is now the associate vice provost for inclusion, community and integrative learning at Stanford University. Joy Hoffman currently manages the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) as interim dean.
Working with issues of diversity and inclusion in education is not a new endeavour for Kamimura-Jimenez. Before coming to the University, he worked at the University of Michigan as the director of graduate student success and later as the assistant dean of programs, policy and diversity initiatives. He is currently the assistant vice chancellor of student affairs at Texas Christian University.
For Kamimura-Jimenez, who identifies as Latinx and an Asian-Pacific Islander, issues of diversity and inclusion on college campuses relate directly to his personal life. In 1996, the University of California system abolished affirmative action just as he was beginning his freshman year at the University of California, Irvine.
“I was really struck by the fact that there [were] hardly any Black and brown students on our campus. I felt like at the time the policy was saying, ‘There’s enough of you here,’ and ‘You have the same ability to access higher education as everyone else,’” Kamimura-Jimenez said. “When the reality was, at that time, other than the teachers that I had in school, I had never been exposed to anyone else that had gone to college.”
He went on to work in Columbia University’s Intercultural Resource Center while getting his master’s degree. He was a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan during the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger cases, which upheld the University of Michigan’s right to consider race in their law school admissions process.
“I was kind of concerned with this idea of equity and what we mean by it,” Kamimura-Jimenez said. “Now we define it both from a racial identity perspective but also a socioeconomic one. And so that kind of drove my path to explore those issues as an undergraduate and all the way through my graduate programs.”
After completing his Ph.D., Kamimura-Jimenez was able to channel his passions into a career.
“The personal is political and in my case, the personal is professional,” Kamimura-Jimenez said.
In his role, he will work most closely with Nicole Hudson, assistant vice chancellor of the Academy for Diversity and Inclusion, Lori White, vice chancellor for student affairs, and Adrienne Davis, vice provost and director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity. According to Davis, Kamimura-Jimenez fits all of the criteria needed for the role.
“He’s [a] visionary, he’s an innovator, he is a great advocate for students, he’s also a very astute administrator,” Davis said. “I’m really excited to be working with him.”
Davis added that widening the cultural backgrounds represented in the CDI staff is a bonus.
“We don’t have enough non-African American leaders of color on our campus,” Davis said. “I love my African-American colleagues, but it’s great to have people who are outside of the Black-white binary.”
Kamimura-Jimenez joining the CDI leadership team is a part of ongoing efforts to modify the center’s approach to diversity, including making the office itself more visible and accessible to students and expanding its internship program.
“The CDI is celebrating its fifth year, and it’s a natural time to take a look and reflect and really decide what the next five or 10 years looks like,” Hudson said. “That’s the thing I’m most excited [for], is seeing him weave that in collaboration with other colleagues and students.”
The CDI’s efforts also coincide with Chancellor Andrew Martin’s emphasis on access and inclusion, including the WashU Pledge.
“I think there are always ways in which we all can better support each other,” Hudson said. “One of our main goals is to help people build the capacity to be comfortable and confident working in and through issues of diversity, equity and inclusion wherever it is that they work.”
Sophomore Josie Robinson, a member of Asian and Pacific Islanders Demanding Justice who has worked in the CDI, has a lot of hope for CDI’s future.
“From my experience, this is an office that truly cares about the well-being of marginalized student populations,” Robinson wrote in a statement to Student Life. “What I hope is for this upcoming dean to not only continue this mission and vision, but also proactively engage with the student body to gain the personal connection the space has always held.”
In his new role, Kamimura-Jimenez plans to prioritize developing an understanding of the University and the student body to decide how to best help increase inclusion and equity. He is especially excited to form strong relationships with faculty and students when he arrives on campus.
“There’s this broader strategic aspect to this role that requires a lot of relationship building,” Kamimura-Jimenez said. “You can ask me just about anything, and within the parameters of what is appropriate, you will get an answer. People will know about my family, they’ll know about my dog…I feel like those relationships and those high quality connections are about being an authentic person in my role. I’ve always been that way. I’ll never change.”