After the announcement of a new RWU president sparked excitement throughout campus, community members gathered information and began to form their initial reactions.
The main focus for many students is how President-Designate Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis will utilize his background and experiences to educate and build relationships with international students, minority groups on campus and the entire student body in general.
Diversity has been a priority for the university for many years, but has remained relatively stagnant in terms of progress. Two members of the Intercultural Center on campus expressed their hope that the new president will make more significant strides when it comes to diversifying RWU in both faculty and student groups.
“I’m excited to see someone from a different background, an immigrant background,” said international relations and legal studies major Shami Ngarambe, after watching the introduction video. “I’m looking forward to what he does — improving diversity on campus.”
In Ngarambe’s area of study, he believes having a president who embodies a world background will open students’ eyes to different races and cultures with a first-hand account to a larger world view.
“This school has been historically, predominately white,” he said.
“After watching the video [on the RWU website], I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with his work in improving diversity on campus.”
Junior Elfreda “E” Hoff, a business management major with minors in dance and biology, shares the excitement of what this president could bring to the table to improve RWU.
“I’m super excited,” she said. “Learning about his background, where he comes from, being a first generation, which is different and nice to see,” Hoff said.
Hoff expressed that coming together to educate each other about different backgrounds and cultures will have a positive impact on how to become a more inclusive campus and community for all. She said that although many students may be used to their own culture, and have not been exposed to many others throughout their lives, there is still an opportunity to become more open-minded while attending RWU.
Hoff believes that if he takes action to emphasize this idea when he comes to campus, “then maybe students will see, ‘Oh okay, I do need to try new things. It’s not something that would quickly happen, but I do feel like it would happen in the end, which would be really awesome to see.”
Former program coordinator of the Latin American and Latino Studies minor and Associate Professor of History, Autumn Quezada-Grant, feels that Miaoulis’ experience as an immigrant coming to the United States hoping to further his education will inspire many international and first-generation students.
She looks forward to Miaoulis stepping into his new role.
“It’s going to be really important to bring change to the university, to become more reflective of the population we warrant at RWU,” Quezada-Grant said.
One of her hopes is that students will see Miaoulis’ experiences and turn them into opportunities of their own. She sees the role of a presidential position as one with immense leadership, and one that has the potential to reinforce a better understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.
Quezada-Grant also pointed to his transformation of the Boston Museum of Science from a local museum to a globally-known institution, as well as his work as the youngest associate dean at Tufts University.
She noted that she expects Miaoulis to be “the head who emulates what we’re trying to imagine come to life.”