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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Chris Campbell begins work as director of FIRST center

The FIRST Center is pictured on Feb. 1.

Chris Campbell began work in January after he was appointed the new director of the FIRST Resource Center. Campbell comes to Tufts from the College of the Holy Cross, where he served as the director of student inclusion and belonging.

“My personal and professional experiences navigating college and everyday life as a cis-gendered Black queer first-generation immigrant have ignited my passion for cultivating spaces where people can feel a strong sense of community, inclusion, and belonging,” Campbell wrote in a statement to the Daily.

Campbell holds a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs administration from the University of Vermont and a bachelor’s degree in religious studies with a concentration in Africana studies from the College of the Holy Cross. While working at Holy Cross, Campbell strived to make first-generation programs more visible and accessible.

“I worked closely with the director of Academic Services and Learning Resources, the director of Financial Aid, and numerous faculty and staff to help develop initiatives for first-generation and low-income students to receive access to educational support services, resources, and opportunities to thrive during their time at Holy Cross and beyond,” Campbell wrote. “As the director of the FIRST Resource Center, I will continue to do this by working collaboratively with internal and external organizations, departments, and offices to develop academic and co-curricular educational programming aligned with the FIRST Resource Center’s mission and goals.”

As FIRST center director, Campbell plans to enhance campus climate by implementing data-driven programs to eliminate barriers to students’ achievement. Additionally, he intends to work with the pre-matriculation summer program, Bridge to Liberal Arts Success at Tufts, and the pre-orientation program, Building Engagement and Access for Students at Tufts, to establish a clear long-term strategic vision rooted in best practices, student development theory, belonging, justice, equity and advocacy.

“As a liberal arts institution, DEIJ is important because it calls us to build a community rooted in inclusion, belonging, mutual respect, and civility,” Campbell wrote. “It’s important for students, faculty, and staff to see DEIJ as a priority, and everyone’s responsibility.”

As part of Tufts’ efforts to enhance community resources for first-generation, low-income and undocumented students, the FIRST Resource Center was created in 2018. Campbell wrote about the importance of fostering a diverse climate on campus.

“Diverse representation and an inclusive learning environment provide inspiration and aspiration,” he wrote. “When students see themselves reflected inside and outside the classroom, they are motivated. Additionally, a diverse campus, along with a campus climate that promotes equity, inclusion, and belonging of all voices, is at the core of education.”

Campbell also hopes to engage and work collaboratively with students.

“Rooted in the framework of intersectionality, I will strive to create spaces where students can celebrate their identities,” he wrote.

Ayomide Oloyede, the FIRST community senator for the Tufts Community Union, said that Campbell’s hiring sends a clear signal that Tufts is progressing in its mission to increase diversity among its faculty.

“It matters to see yourself in academic spaces and professional spaces,” Oloyede, a sophomore, said. “Communities of marginalized students … should see themselves represented amongst professors, or amongst administrators. That really meant a lot to me when Chris came to Tufts … because a Black man, relatively young, is making a difference — and I can see myself in him.”

In an email to the Daily, Ellise Lamotte, the associate dean of student diversity, inclusion and success, noted the importance of having exposure to diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education.

“College campuses are becoming more diverse, so it is important for higher education institutions to offer students, staff and faculty with a campus where people can see themselves reflected and an environment where everyone can be their authentic selves,” Lamotte wrote.