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Coming full circle

by Brianna Bush - Editor-in-Chief
Tue, Feb 18th 2020 01:50 pm

The College at Brockport administration recently appointed Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Lorraine Acker Ph.D. as the interim Chief Diversity Officer for the college.

Acker first started her collegiate run at Brockport as an undergraduate student majoring in African and Afro-American studies, receiving her bachelors in 1999. While at Brockport, Acker took advantage of the Study Abroad Program, traveling to University of Ghana at Lego, Accra, Ghana. 

Acker decided to continue her education, receiving her masters in 2001 from Western Illinois University, and later her doctorate in philosophy and higher education at Iowa State University in 2017. 

After receiving her degree, Acker held many positions involving student affairs. In 2015, Acker worked as Director of Margaret Sloss Women’s Center at Iowa State University. During that time, she engaged with faculty and staff to help them understand how to serve as mentors for women of color. She also led strategic initiatives to help enhance the experience for women of color at Iowa State. 

When Acker was a student at Brockport, she was a part of the work study program that the college provides for students.

“When I was a student here I worked as a work study in the Vice President of Student Affairs Office, which was literally on the sixth floor when I was a student,” Acker explained. “My work study desk was in that little office out there [the office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion]. So the fact that I’m actually here is really full circle.”

Acker, at times, finds herself reminiscing about her time as a work study in student affairs and now as a full-time worker in the very office she started. Although Acker started at Brockport and is currently here, she wasn’t always a part of the Brockport community.

Before coming back to Brockport in July of 2019, Acker was Associate Vice President of Student Affairs at Bennett College. Bennett College, according to Acker, is a “private four-year historical black liberal arts college for women located in Greensboro, North Carolina, with an enrollment of 526 students.”

While at Bennett, Acker was responsible for administration policies for the Board of Trustees and assisted in creating a campus environment that promoted academic achievement and personal development for its students. She participated in many of the decisions that affected Bennett as a whole. 

When Acker made her return to Brockport in July, she took on the position of Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, overseeing nine different areas: the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), the Brockport Student Government, Prevention & Outreach Services, Select Respect Center, Student Union & Activities, Campus Recreation, Community Development, Student Leadership Development and Intercollegiate Athletics.

Now as interim CDO, Acker would like to continue the work the former CDO, Cephas Archie, Ph.D., started as well as some of her own initiatives.

“We just launched the application for the Student Advisory Board,” Acker said. “One of the things that I saw a gap in [was] that students need to be able to communicate with the President [Heidi Macpherson] and the [President’s] Cabinet in a much more formalized setting.”

The Student Advisory Board was first mentioned on Monday, Jan. 27, at the Town Hall meeting, by Acker. 

“The overarching goal of the Student Advisory Board is really collaboration,” Acker stated during the Town Hall meeting. “Collaborating both with EDI as well as the office of the President to address equity, diversity and inclusion on campus.”

Since Acker is currently running two positions, there is “demand for [her] time, demand for [her] schedule and demand for [her] calendar — which is full of extra meetings and extra places [she] needs to be.” Although there is a lot of work for her, there hasn’t been a lot of change for her since both positions “work hand-in-hand.”

Acker is also working on plans for the Unity Trip in April and Cultural Address, started by Archie.

“The CDO has an annual Cultural Address,” Acker explained. “It is a program that Dr. Archie started this year, and the students are looking forward to engaging with EDI in a different way.”

Acker, in many ways, is becoming more involved in the college community. During the 2019 fall semester, she was at the Diversity Conference interacting with students. She took advantage of the new school year by going to many of the student organizations’ events, as well as going to sporting events — letting the students see her in a different environment.

Acker plans to reach out to more students to see what they need from her and will continue to provide her skill set to the staff, students and faculty of The College at Brockport.

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