New Chief Diversity Officer Begins Work
Cephas Archie aims to help make Brockport a more diverse, inclusive community.
Cephas Archie arrived at SUNY Brockport in late August as its new chief diversity officer. He previously served as the diversity and inclusion program coordinator/specialist at Houston Community College, a multi-branch comprehensive community college located in Houston, TX. The Port caught up with Archie to talk about his first months at Brockport and efforts to make the College more inclusive.
Describe your experiences at Brockport thus far.
There are many people here who not only understand the logic, but understand the rationale behind what we do and why we do it — at all levels, students, faculty, staff, etc. It makes the work we have to do collectively that much easier. We have people already in place who are prepared and are supporting this work. I’m very pleased.
Student representation and leadership has been all aboard in wanting to push the envelope. They embody the same vision as [Brockport President] Dr. [Heidi] Macpherson, to develop a place where everyone understands what it means to be inclusive. Change won’t happen overnight — it has to be implemented strategically. It has to find its way into every conversation, every handshake, every one of our actions every day if we’re really going to talk about making change. It requires daily actions to remain true to what we see as our values.
How might external events make the process more challenging?
We are in an unprecedented time, in many ways, with violence and hatred being rampant both locally and nationally. I would encourage all our Brockport community members to remain vigilant in our approach and our decisions, to remain faithfully committed to being collaborative.
Continue to reach out to build relationships and partnerships. We can’t control what happens throughout the nation, but we do have the ability to regulate what happens on our campus. We should be fully invested in making the difference we know we can make here.
What do you feel Brockport Night Out (a recent event that brought together University Police and student minority groups) accomplished?
Brockport Night Out highlighted our college’s intentional effort to provide progressive local solutions to identified national challenges. As law enforcement and minority groups have struggled to maintain positive and engaging partnerships, our purpose was to challenge the stereotypes and misperceptions of both groups, coming together to support both communities in mutual respect and value. As we are all charged to do our part in creating a safe and welcoming environment for all Brockport community members, the program reaffirmed our mission to connect and build partnerships, rather than continue to operate in exclusive silos.
What is one thing every Brockport community member could do to make this a more inclusive campus?
One word: ownership. We each have a responsibility and duty to making SUNY Brockport a more inclusive campus. Acknowledging the personal and professional ownership of our individual responsibility and duty to do our part is pivotal to true and meaningful change. A more inclusive campus cannot be established and maintained by any single entity at the institution alone, but in all recognizing that we are a better college, a better community, and better people when we thrive together in an academic environment that welcomes and supports us all.