New Director Discusses Goals of Reaching Out to PC Community and Beyond
By Hannah Langley ’21
Following the completion of Moore Hall at the end of last year, Providence College has been searching for a new director for the Center for Inclusive Excellence at Moore Hall. After a rigorous interview and selection process, Dr. Shan Mukhtar has been selected as the director for the Center at Moore Hall.
Mukhtar is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and has a Ph.D. in Race and Ethnic Studies from Emory University. She left her previous position as Assistant Director of the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program at Emory University, as she was intrigued by the prospect of PC’s new open position. “I saw [this position] as an opportunity to build something from the ground up,” said Mukhtar, which enticed her to apply and makes her excited for the future of the Center.
Currently, Mukhtar’s plan for the Center is to use it as a cultural space that, as she explains in her vision statement, “promotes diverse interactions and facilitates community-based social change at Providence College.” Mukhtar continues by stating that she wants the Center to “becom[e] a place where community members can work together to address issues related to race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, socioeconomic status, immigration…, cultural and faith traditions, and political ideology.”
One of Mukhtar’s largest ambitions and goals for the Center is to create a space that is not only comfortable, but also inviting and intellectually engaging for everyone at PC. “There is no such thing as a politically neutral place,” Mukhtar commented, “but I want to create a space where people can have common values and appreciate others’ humanity.”
In an effort to do this, Mukhtar has become involved in clubs, meetings, and organizations on campus. Her goal is to work with these groups and individual students to create intellectually stimulating events and create engaging conversations. One event she is particularly excited for is a public disputation. She hopes such a debate will exemplify how people can have open conversations about controversial topics and disagree, but in a civil way. She explained, “By using creative arts to have conversations about different and interesting topics, it will help highlight how similar we all are.”
One thing Mukhtar wants to emphasize is the fact that she wants the Center at Moore Hall to be a comfortable space for the whole PC community and she is open to any and all feedback on what to change to make this happen. “This is an opportunity to build something from the ground-up, so it can be dynamic,” Mukhtar explains. She continues, saying, “This is my vision, but it’s not the vision. I want to create something cohesive, and I want the students to know they’re being heard.”
Mukhtar explained her vision of creating participatory and community-based work that helps the need of not only the PC community, but the surrounding Providence and Rhode Island area as well. “Community-based work is a process,” she explains, “it requires talking to people and making yourself available.”
Mukhtar continued by elaborating on what her idea of community is, saying, “I look at community as diverse, not uniform.” She stresses the idea of looking beyond what we consider our groups to be and recognize the diversities that exist within these groups. “Unity doesn’t mean uniformity,” Mukhtar said, “[sometimes] we forget to examine and reflect on who we are.”
Mukhtar also encourages students to step beyond the boundaries of the PC campus and experience the city. “The more we engage with city life,” Mukhtar stresses, “the richer everyone’s experience will be and the less isolated we’ll feel.”
Mukhtar is looking forward to working with the PC community, both on and off campus, to create and build relationships.