In an effort to significantly increase the visibility
and scope of Homewood's
Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the
university will open a Multicultural Center, the first such
the campus, and has created a new position in the Office of
the Dean of Student Life to lead in this
area. Katrina Bell McDonald, an associate professor of
sociology in the
Krieger School of Arts and
Sciences, has been appointed associate dean for
multicultural affairs, a role she officially assumes
Initially, the Multicultural Center will be housed in
the office portion of the Homewood
Apartments building, located at 3003 N. Charles St., in a
space used most recently by the Annual
Fund. The space will be occupied this fall.
The permanent location for the Multicultural Center is
slated to be 3505 N. Charles St., a
building that will become vacant in summer 2010, when its
current tenant, the History of Science and
Technology Department, moves into the renovated Gilman
In order to move in by that date, the university has
initiated a campaign to raise $3 million for
the building's renovation and for program support.
The center will house in one place student groups such
as the Black Student Union, OLE (the
voice of the Latino student community) and the Inter-Asian
Council, and will provide coherent program
support. While the BSU has maintained a physical location
in one of the freshman residence halls for
decades, none of the other multicultural groups currently
have space of their own.
Susan Boswell, dean of student life, said that the new
center will allow the university to provide
a broader range of multicultural services and activities to
the student population. "This will become a
very visible and important facility on this campus,"
Boswell said. "Symbolically, the new center
represents the university's commitment to all students and
our value of multiculturalism and
Earlier this year, Boswell led a delegation of Johns
Hopkins administrators who visited a number
of peer institutions to evaluate similar facilities and
identified potential locations for JHU's center.
Paula Burger, dean of undergraduate education, said
she envisions the center as a "vibrant
place" that will meet the programming and office needs of
the various student groups.
"We want to create a place where we can come together
as a community, and where students
from all cultural backgrounds can participate in a lively
exchange of ideas," she said.
Burger said that she hopes the center will create a
real synergy among the multicultural groups,
the way the university's religious organizations and groups
have benefited from the Bunting-
Meyerhoff Interfaith and Community Service Center.
McDonald, who will report to Boswell, will oversee the
new center and the Office of
Multicultural Student Affairs. In effect, McDonald replaces
Rosemary Varner-Gaskins, the office's
director, who recently retired.
Boswell said that the creation of the dean-level
position will allow McDonald to play a much
broader role in the university community and strengthen
student involvement in this area.
McDonald, who joined Johns Hopkins in 1994, was the
second black female ever to be awarded
tenure in the School of Arts and Sciences or the School of
She regularly teaches courses on the African-American
family, contemporary race relations,
qualitative research methods and researching race, class
and gender. She also is an associate at the
Hopkins Population Center and serves on the board of
the Center for
Africana Studies. A member of the Diversity Leadership
Council and Black
Faculty and Staff Association, she
also serves on the Maryland Humanities Council and is a
member of the American Sociological
Her recent book, Embracing Sisterhood: Class,
Identity and Contemporary Black Women
(Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), analyzes how contemporary
black women's ideas of womanhood and
sisterhood merge with social class status to shape certain
attachments and detachments among them.
McDonald is currently involved in new research on
contemporary marriage among native black, African
and Caribbean couples.
McDonald earned her doctorate in sociology from the
University of California, Davis in 1995.
She also holds a bachelor's degree with honors in written
communication from Mills College and a
master's degree in applied communication research from
Boswell said that during the search process, the idea
of recruiting a faculty member of
McDonald's stature was met with immediate enthusiasm.
"I couldn't imagine a more qualified person, and I'm
delighted that Katrina has accepted this
new role," Boswell said.
Burger shares Boswell's enthusiasm for the
"I'm delighted to see a person of her caliber and
leadership in this new role. She is a highly
gifted teacher and communicator," Burger said. "She also
has a clear understanding of the issues
involved in multicultural affairs and a deep understanding
of students, someone who is very
sympathetic to their needs."
McDonald said that she will continue to teach and
conduct research, splitting time between her
new role and the Department of Sociology, although she
foresees a reduced academic load over time.
McDonald said she is excited by the challenge of the
new position and by the potential of the
"We have never had a physical home for multicultural
affairs. I think it will undoubtedly improve
the quality of cultural programming on campus," she said.
"In the past, the office has done a wonderful
job, but we want to reach out to far more students than we
currently do and bolster the activities of
these groups. This new center will allow us to do that."