Robert L. Canida II has been named to the newly created position of director for the Office of Minority Affairs at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Canida, who was selected after a national search, started work August 1 in the office, which is located in the Multicultural Center in Old Main. He was formerly the assistant librarian for electronic resources/access services of the Sampson-Livermore Library, where he worked for nine years.
As Minority Affairs Director, Canida will provide leadership for administering, coordinating and overseeing programs and services, which promote the academic and personal growth and development of minority students. The primary goal of this position will be to assist in maintaining a campus environment that supports student diversity and promotes learning opportunities and services leading to the success and retention of minority students.
Canida will also work closely and collaboratively with virtually all other operational units of UNCP in fulfilling the diversity-related goals of the university. The new director reports directly to Dr. Diane Jones, Vice Chancellor for the Office of Student Affairs.
"Mr. Canida was the unanimous selection of a campus committee made up of faculty, staff and students," Dr. Jones said. "His knowledge of the campus, our students, our mission to serve students and his involvement in student-related activities made him a natural fit for this position."
"Under Mr. Canida's leadership, the provision of programs and services will presuppose a strong campus sense of a common community that celebrates diversity, serving all its citizens marked by access, shared goals, interaction and integration in all aspects of college life," she said.
Canida said the Office of Minority Affairs will serve all minority groups on campus, emphasizing the importance of embracing all cultures and celebrating the true purpose and strengths of diversity as part of the total and effective education of our students who must perform in a global environment which becomes smaller and smaller each day. Canida applauded and commended the University's administration for its vision, support and commitment to the role and purpose of the Office of Minority Affairs.
"As the University grows and becomes even more diverse, all minorities will need to have a voice on campus," Canida said. "This office, which will need assistance and support across campus, will help with the articulation of that voice in a manner consistent with the mission of venerable UNCP."
Canida is very enthusiastic about the opportunity for the new Minority Affairs Offices ability to build on an already favorable setting for diversity on campus.
"This University is creating an environment of inclusion for everyone," he said. "That's great!"
The definition of minority at UNCP, Canida emphasized, is vastly different from the definition applicable at most other colleges and universities. This difference is represented not only in the number of Native American and African American students on campus, but in the dynamic ratio between and among whites, Native American, African American and other growing populations of international students.
"Therefore, one of the key challenges of this office is to use this unique setting as an inclusionary strength without diluting the importance of the overall diversity of this wonderful institution," Canida said. "In a word, it's called functional inclusion."
"When you think of minorities at UNCP, you can't think only in terms of African Americans, Native Americans and Latinos." Canida said. "There are many underrepresented groups. It is my intention to focus on and to address the needs of all minority groups on campus."
Canida said many of the programs generated by the Office of Minority Affairs will be available to the entire campus. "When it comes to programming, every one is welcome," he said.
The new director said there are some pressing challenges for the office.
"Retention of minority students and all students is a priority at UNCP," he said. "One of the first initiatives of the Minority Affairs Office will be to establish a peer mentoring program."
"There's a well-known proverb, which has currency relative to diversity. That is, 'it takes a whole village to raise a child,'" Canida said. "Like the proverb, we will need the support of every campus unit to be a successful Office of Minority Affairs."
Canida has been actively involved in the community and with a wide variety of University and student committees and projects.
"Even at the library, my business was about students," Canida said. "I have always enjoyed working with students and University programs."
He is an advisor for a campus fraternity and a member of theUniversity Multicultural Committee. Canida serves as a peer mentor for the Teaching Fellows Program and is a member of the Student Affairs and the Campus Life committees.
A member of the Faculty Senate, Canida has performed considerable committee work, including the Enrollment Task Force, the University Technology Committee and University Planning Council.
Canida is chairman of the board of directors of the Pembroke Area Chamber of Commerce and a past president of the Robeson County Rape Crisis Center.
A Cincinnati, Ohio, native, Canida did his undergraduate work at Xavier University and received a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Kentucky. He is working on a doctorate in higher education at NC State University.
Before joining the Sampson-Livermore Library staff, he worked in public and university library settings for 11 years.
For more information, contact Robert Canida at 910.522.5790 or firstname.lastname@example.org.