Changes in faculty, staff bring in new talents to campus

As the semester begins, Guilford College students may notice that first-years are not the only new faces on campus. Forty-five faculty, staff and administrators have joined the Guilford community or changed to new positions, and they have plenty to say about coming here.

“I think it means new energy,” said Stephanie Chang, the new director of the Multicultural Education Department. “I think it means an ability to look at some of the things the College has done really well and help contribute to the ways it continues to do well.”

The new folks come from all over, from Georgia to Oregon to Canada, and they appreciate what makes Guilford different.

New Vice President for Advancement Ara Serjoie has a message for the community.

“I want to tell them thank you for creating such a wonderful place that is warm, that is beautiful, that has a soul and that is striving every day to do better in terms of living by its values,” said Serjoie. “(I want to tell them) to keep up the good work while also staying open-minded, diligent and able to see different perspectives and observe the integrity in other people as we have conversations about some very difficult things.”

Some staff members appreciated Guilford even before being hired.

“In the job description, it said that they wanted candidates who had an understanding of systems of privilege and oppression,” said Instructional Technology Librarian Tierney Steelberg. “There was not a single other job that I looked at that laid those kinds of things out front and center.”

As the new staff members are getting to know the student body, some have commented on the students’ abilities to speak up.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how students have open voices and share the things that they see that are not working, the things that are working well or the things that they want to see change,” said Community Director of Shore Hall, Bryan Hall and Mary Hobbs Hall Ja’lessa Morris. “Everyone here is really open to hearing what students have to say.”

In their new roles, people will bring unique things to their positions.

“As an admissions counselor, you want to ensure that you’re going for equality and access,” said Assistant Director of Admission Fernando Gomes. “Access comes in so many different ways. Like, how are you reaching out to students that might not have heard of your college? How are you making the application process friendlier to them?”

They come in not only with talents suited to their positions. Visiting Assistant Professor of Justice & Policy Studies Omari Dyson has trained in multiple forms of martial arts, Chang traveled the world helping with national contests for latte art and Assistant Director for the Office of Student Leadership & Engagement Tim Johnson performs as a mime.

Some of the new community members enjoy time outdoors as well. Lab Manager for Natural Science & Mathematics Division Sharon Hines enjoys walking outdoors and looks forward to visiting the Guilford woods. Associate Dean of Students Steve Mencarini, who is more familiar with the Guilford woods, says they were in his backyard in his previous house and he would explore them with his son.

Overall, the new staff share an excitement for what they can do for Guilford students.

“The idea now is that people are not just consuming information,” said Steelberg. “The library empowers people to be creators as well. If you’re writing your research paper, that’s something that you’re contributing to this body of knowledge and to this scholarly discussion. You have a voice in this conversation.”

Johnson summed up his goals for his time at Guilford.

“This is (the students’) experiences,” said Johnson. “I’m just there to make them.”