Getting to know the new director of the Multicultural Center
Dr. Christa Platt, M.S. ’09, Ph.D. ’17, began her new role as director of the Multicultural Center on July 1, when all operations of the Diversity Advocacy office transitioned to the center. Previously, Platt served as assistant dean for Diversity Advocacy in the Dean of Students Office.
Platt comes to the Multicultural Center with 16 years of experience in higher education, both in academic and student affairs. She has spent much of her career working with underrepresented students, with specific focus on retention initiatives, curriculum and program development, assessment, strategic planning, first-year experience, peer mentor programs, TRiO initiatives, and STEM advocacy. Platt earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration and a master’s degree in college student personnel from Illinois State. She is also a graduate of Wichita State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students John Davenport says that Platt “brings a rare combination of experience in research, advising, administration, and familiarity with the Illinois State campus. This experience, along with her commitment to social justice, diversity, and inclusion make her the ideal choice to lead the planning and opening of our Multicultural Center.”
Platt’s passion for diversity and inclusion work is evident as she champions student success with an equity mindset. “The thread throughout my career has been a deep commitment to disrupting oppression through amplifying the voices and experiences of historically marginalized communities,” she said. “I consider this a part of my life’s work.”
Under Platt’s strategic leadership, the Multicultural Center will foster a courageous and supportive environment that disrupts oppression, builds community, supports interfaith partnerships, teaches advocacy skills, and empowers change agents across the campus. Platt explained that the work of the center is crucial for our campus and students.
“The physical space, along with the development of the center’s justice-oriented framework, represents Illinois State University’s commitment to humanity through the disruption of oppression,” she said. “I firmly believe that when oppression is disrupted and space, not just physical, is created for all humans to live out their identities, students will experience a sense of belonging.”
Renovation work has begun on the location identified for the Multicultural Center, at 301 S. Main St., with an anticipated opening date of summer 2021. While the physical space of the center remains under renovation, Platt and her staff are fully functioning. This fall they are implementing the first of a four-phase roll out plan, which includes the development and facilitation of programs, curriculum, and services for the campus community. Specific programs include Healing Justice Circles, Safe-ish, and the Culturally Responsive Campus Community Conference. The center staff also continue to advise the diversity advocacy organizations, Black Student Union, Association of Latin American Students, Asian Pacific American Coalition, and Pride.
Platt is looking forward to the many goals for the center this year, including the hiring of additional staff, sharing the center’s mission and vision broadly, and creating strong reciprocal partnerships, among others.
“It’s exciting to lead the charge for a space that so many are excited about and see the necessity for. Even more, I’m excited to continue listening to stakeholders, in particular, students, to build out a center that meets their needs and positions the campus to be a forerunner in the work of disrupting oppression and championing equity, justice, and belonging. I envision this center having longstanding impact on this campus. It’s an honor to have a hand in it’s development and implementation.”