Theresa Tensuan '89, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs
Theresa Tensuan ’89 Named Director of Office of Multicultural Affairs
Earlier this week, Haverford welcomed Theresa Tensuan '89, an assistant professor in the English department since 2002, to the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) as its new director. Tensuan is replacing Frederic MacDonald-Dennis, who had been the OMA’s interim director since September of 2009.
"The members of the Search Committee, the staff of the Dean's Office and I are thrilled that Theresa will be joining us in this important role,” says Dean of the College Martha Denney. “We had a very strong pool of applicants for the position, and Theresa rose to the top on a variety of dimensions. She will bring great energy, creativity and vision to the OMA, building on the work of our interim director over the past two years."
The OMA, which oversees physical spaces like the Multicultural Center in Stokes and Black Cultural Center at the Ira De A. Reid House, implements educational and cultural programs to improve campus climate and enhance community life at Haverford. In its effort to help the College realize its commitments to diversity, it also works with the Admissions Office to recruit and retain students from diverse backgrounds and supports many different cultural and ethnic student organizations.
“I’m really excited,” says Tensuan of her new post. “My own investment is in fostering community. What does it mean to bring all these people—people from different points of view, orientations, geographic locations, religious and ethnic backgrounds—together in a seminar room or in a hallway in Gummere? The possibilities for critical and creative engagement are extraordinary. For me, when people bring forward the fullness, richness and complexity of their experiences, you have the best conversations, and when you have the most diverse range of people at the table, you get nuances and complexities that you cannot get otherwise.”
Tensuan’s new position also includes the title Dean of Multicultural Affairs. As such, she will counsel designated student advisees on on- and off-campus resources, academic matters and immediate and future plans, as well as offer general support. She will also advocate for and support the interests and needs of multicultural Fords, such as students of color and LGBT students.
Tensuan is already hard at work designing programming initiatives for the upcoming academic year. Some of her ideas include starting a visiting artist series on campus, creating a “Sophomore Sunday Supper” series, at which invited guests would come speak informally with an intimate group of second-years over dinner, working with the Education Program to support faculty members in innovative curricular initiatives, and introducing something she calls “the OMA passport,” a book that new students could get stamped by different organizations on campus by way of an introduction. “It would be a way to be intentional and thoughtful about moving students through all the resources that are available on campus, the way that distribution requirements do in regard to the curriculum,” she says. Tensuan also plans to cultivate the internship program that MacDonald-Dennis started.
“I want students to know that the OMA supports the entire campus,” she says. “Every single student on this campus is bringing something to the community that no one else is bringing. I want students to know that the OMA is a place to discover that, draw that out and foster it. My door is wide open.”