David Smith, candidate for director of diversity, says he wants to tweak programs, not change them

Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer Dr. David Smith Jr. of Georgia State University speaks to faculty members at CMU in the Park Library Strosacker Room Tuesday morning. Dr. Smith is a candidate for Director of Office of Diversity Education. "I've walked the walk as a globally engaged citizen," Dr. Smith said.

David Smith, candidate for the director of diversity education position at Central Michigan University, addressed his strengths and plans for CMU at an open forum Tuesday.

Smith, one of three candidates for the position, spoke to eight people in the Strosacker Room in Charles V. Park Library, including the position's search committee.

The director will help create an accepting atmosphere for diversity at the university. By educating faculty and students, the director assists in fulfilling the diversity goals of CMU.

"I would use short-term programs, like workshops and seminars," he said. "I would also use long-term programs where I can engage with students on a daily, weekly, monthly and semester-long basis."

Smith is the director of the division of Student Affairs/Office of African-American Student Services and Programs at Georgia State University.

Smith talked about some of the ideas he would implement at CMU, if chosen for the position, and brought up programs he instituted at GSU, including a tutoring arrangement between international and American students to promote academic excellence and cultural exposure.

If hired, Smith would strive to increase the amount of opportunities for students at CMU to discuss diversity.

"I would work on increasing intra-group dialogues — not just in classes, but in some of the programs," Smith said.

Though Smith mentioned changes, he doesn't want to alter CMU's entire diversity program.

"First I want to listen, because (CMU) has some great programs and I've seen some of them," Smith said. "Then, I (want to) tweak them to make them better."

Smith said it is imperative to continue moving forward as a university.

"If you're at the top of the nation, what are you going to do? Are you going to sit there and continue your programs as normal? We are looking at going from highly effective to greatness," he said.

Smith said his communication skills with students make him a good candidate for the position.

"When (students) see me, they're like 'here comes Dr. Smith; he's going to ask me about my experiences here,'" he said. "I do that on a daily basis. It's a habit."

The opinion of students is important to Smith because the future lies in their hands.

"The youth (will) be the ones that lead us forward. We have to value (the students') opinion," Smith said.

Forums for the remaining candidates, Theodore Ransaw and Velecia Humes, will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday and Monday, respectively, in the Strosacker Room.


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