Three of Yale’s four cultural centers are looking for new directors.
The Afro-American Cultural Center, La Casa Cultural and the Native American Cultural Center have all formed dean search committees and are actively soliciting qualified candidates. Last Friday, the NACC’s dean search committee — which includes students, faculty and administrators — met with students at the center to discuss the characteristics they hope to see in a new dean. Across the board, students expressed satisfaction with how the house has been run thus far and hoped that the new dean would bring a similar level of support and involvement to the NACC.
“We need someone who is committed to us,” NACC Peer Liaison Helder Toste ’16 said. “Because [Native Americans are] such an ethnically diverse group, it’s very difficult to have a dean who isn’t around.”
While the background and the tribe of the new dean does not matter, Toste said, what is important is that he or she is accepting of Native Americans from all backgrounds.
Students also reflected positively on the current work that Cutter has done for the NACC. Although currently on paternity leave, Cutter has been both supportive and organized, going out of his way to ensure that student clubs receive adequate funding, NACC member Karleh Wilson ’16 said.
Like members of La Casa, NACC students are looking for someone who is able to navigate Yale’s administrative structure and advocate for Native students, Wilson added. Additionally, the NACC is looking for someone whom students can seek as a friend or confidant within the center’s close-knit community, NACC member Vanessa Noelte ’16 said.
Two key characteristics brought up at the meeting were energy and authenticity, Noelte added.
“I want [the new dean] to have a lot of energy and to be authentic in the sense that he acts as a dean but is still able to relate to kids and to hang out,” she said.
Students also mentioned the possibility of having a female dean, as female Native Americans are the “minority within the minority” at Yale, Noelte said.
Wilson said it is important to have a dean who is open to talking about issues relating to mental health. Citing Cutter’s current dedication to the topic, Wilson said students need a place to discuss Yale’s problems in the context of their cultural community.
While the job posting has been made, the committee is hoping to interview applicants this month, Noelte said. The goal is to have someone hired by the end of the school year, but if no appropriate candidate is found, the NACC will continue with Cutter at its helm, she added.
“The committee is doing a fantastic job of getting students involved in the search process,” Noelte said. “We have a lot to say, and the dean really does set the tone for the entire house.”
The NACC was founded in 1993 and moved to its current location at 26 High St. in fall 2013.