As the new director of NAU’s Multicultural Student Center, Burel Ford is looking forward to collaborating with faculty, staff, students and the community.

Ford believes it takes teamwork to promote diversity, and he is going to start by working with other campus departments to help include a cultural component in their work.

“There are natural fits for including a cultural component, such as working with Residence Life, the Office of Student Life and the Native American Student Center, but I’d also like to collaborate with the music and theater departments and others to develop programs that engage people about diversity,” Ford said.

He welcomes the challenge of his job description to create and develop programs designed to achieve graduation rates equal to or above the overall university average for diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

Ford most recently directed the Multicultural Services in the Office of Student Life at George Fox University in Oregon, where he conducted diversity training on issues of age, gender, socio-economics and race for the faculty, staff and students. He also planned and executed long-range diversity strategic initiatives, participated in the university’s academic and student service approach to diversity and organized monthly cultural programs for campus and community.

Ford was attracted to NAU’s commitment to equity. “President Haeger’s emphasis on diversity makes for a healthy university, and the faculty-to-student ratio here is remarkably in favor of the students,” he said.

He credits the strength of NAU’s Multicultural Student Center to university leadership and Erin Grisham, the executive director for Educational Support, and Traci Harvey, the recent interim director for the Multicultural Student Center.

“The work of the center to date has been very solid, especially the STAR program,” he said.

Ford received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Park University in Missouri.