On Friday afternoon, Gigi Secuban was the last of three candidates to speak to a crowd in the Multicultural Center about her qualifications and ideas for Ohio University’s first vice president for diversity and inclusion.
Secuban emphasized the importance of incorporating different offices throughout the university into the mission of diversity and providing resources for students, faculty and staff in order to make OU a more inclusive environment.
She is serving as the associate vice chancellor and director of the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations at the University of Illinois. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and an Ed.D in higher education administration at the University of Arkansas, where she later served as the Senior Associate Director in the College of Engineering and the Director for the Multicultural Center.
President Duane Nellis’ commitment to diversity and creation of the vice president position attracted Secuban to the role.
“You truly cannot make transformational change without the infrastructure,” Secuban said.
She talked about infusing diversity through different parts of the university. She said, in terms of recruiting new students, it would be important for her to meet with the vice president for recruitment and consider the campus climate surveys.
When asked about allyship, she outlined the the importance of education about diversity throughout campus. She specifically mentioned providing training and resources regarding white privilege, undocumented students and not turning away people who are open to learning about the challenges of diverse individuals.
Inclusive spaces on campus to make students feel comfortable and accepted were discussed at the forum.
“How can we create these more inclusive spaces on campus?” Secuban said. “If the spaces aren’t being utilized the ways they need to be, then how can we look at how we may need to reconfigure? … making sure we’re creating spaces where students want to come.”
She also spoke about helping students with diverse backgrounds integrate at OU and incorporate them into the culture of Athens, including students coming from abroad.
“The international students aren’t just trying to show you food,” she said. “ They want to get more. ... They want to learn about American culture.”
Secuban was also asked about balancing diversity and inclusion with some of the business related aspects of being a university administrator. She responded that administrators can still be supportive of students and move things forward.