In early December 2021, an email from Josh McIntosh, the Vice President for Campus Life, officially announced and welcomed to the Bates Community a new addition to the Office of Intercultural Education (OIE). Ray Grant has been named the new Assistant Dean for the First Generation and Bobcat First (B1st) programs.
In the email, McIntosh states that “Ray brings over 15 years of defense experience diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) through student counseling and advocacy, curriculum development, and student engagement. The email also details Dr. Grant’s previous experience as ‘class dean for freshmen and programs’ at Colby College and as ‘assistant director of counseling and mentoring services’ at DePaul University in Chicago.
Dr. Ray Grant agreed to be interviewed and provide The student with insight into his previous experiences and new hopes for Bates.
What are your responsibilities?
“My responsibilities include overseeing and managing the strategic creation of Bobcat First programs to cultivate trust and relationships with program participants. My job is also to work in partnership with students to better support their dreams. I plan to provide opportunities for academic experience, learning, and development, both inside and outside of the classroom. I am adamant about creating a space where students can feel a sense of belonging and community while going about their daily lives. Three areas of my responsibility that I want to highlight are:
- Build relationships and partnerships with faculty, students, academic departments, support services, and all campus partners to meet student needs.
- Develop, implement and evaluate extracurricular programs, workshops, events and activities to support students’ academics, as well as their professional and personal success.
- Educate students to leverage their liberal arts education while maximizing the use of campus resources. »
How has your transition been so far?
“I’m lucky to work in a supportive and creative environment, where I have colleagues who welcome and support me and my ideas. My boss, Josh McIntosh, has especially given me the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally since before I even arrived on campus. It was great, can’t complain.
How do you like the weather here so far?
“This weather is beautiful, it may seem crazy to others, but I like the cold and the snow. I have lived in New York and Chicago before and, in addition, I have traveled to Scandinavia several times during the winter. winter, so I’m used to the cold, but I’m still adapting to the wind.
Tell me about yourself, what do you want the Bates community to know about you?
“I have been in higher education for 18 years, being heavily involved in student affairs and student support services. I also worked as an assistant principal in a student support program for first generation students. It was in this role that I truly developed a passion for connecting and motivating first generation students to achieve their goals and dreams. I am also a first generation student myself. I have a bachelor’s degree in education and economics, a master’s degree in urban studies and a doctorate in education. My thesis research focused on parental support for first-generation college students. I was also a junior chess champion when I was younger. Besides that, I love to cook and travel: I have visited many countries in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, Europe and the Caribbean.
In addition, I served as a registrar, where I processed a lot of data. I mention this because I have always had an interest in using data to support student success and decision-making. My current role at B1st allows me to make the connection between the date and student success and decision-making.
The most important thing I want the Bates community to know about me is that I’m a big advocate for students, and I’m also an advocate for collaboration on campus. My philosophy, in a nutshell, encompasses building relationships and trust among students while teaching them life skills for success.
What are your goals for OIE space and resources?
“Our main goal here is to use the space for programs, workshops, events and activities to create community and a sense of belonging among the students. Our staff at OIE are already doing a fantastic job using the space for different cultural programming, like inviting all campuses and affinity groups to host events, but we still want to do more and use the feedback given to us to better recognize and celebrate the identities of our With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, we also plan to use the wonderful kitchen for events, including community meals.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the recent departures from OIE and the general view of students on this, what do you think?
“I’ve heard of the departures and I don’t have much to say except that I’m delighted to be here now because I remain committed to working in partnership with students, faculty and the staff to build a successful program. Now more than ever, it’s important to build a culture of trust and achievement where students are empowered to leverage their resources to thrive. Since my arrival, I have spent most of my time engaging with the students and discussing with them their experiences and how the OIE and I can best support their goals. I understand that the recent departures have created tension and mistrust not only within the OIE community, but also within the Bates community. My only hope is that we can fix our community to be better than before. But this repair comes directly from the students, who hear them talk about what went wrong before and what exactly they need in terms of support. I see the unfortunate situation as a way to start over, this time creating stability that can last.
What’s next for the Bobcat First program? What can we expect to change and stay the same?
“My plan for the OIE is to re-engage students in the program. In April, there will be a banquet to celebrate the end of the school year. It will also be a time to celebrate our seniors and Bobcat First Fellows, both for their student leadership at Bates and for keeping the Bobcat First program together during the rollover.
What the community can expect to remain the same is OIE’s commitment to creating a program that supports the academic, professional and personal growth of students while ensuring that they feel a sense of belonging to the community.
What the community can expect to change is the culture of distrust, past program delivery and collaboration with students. The program will now be more accessible and collaborative for students. I also understand that building trust takes time, but I think with the new changes to OIE and the Bobcat First program, we will begin to see a change in student participation and attitudes.
At the start of the semester, I set up polls to learn about student experiences and what programs, events, and workshops they would like to see, which has been helpful in planning and organizing events. Based on feedback from the surveys, I have curated a list of possibilities for the OIE.
There will be a new program. We are going to have a Parent Program to help parents learn about campus resources and how they can best support their first generation loved ones. Other changes are going to include: fellowship and scholarship workshops to connect students to other resources, graduate and preparatory student workshops to help students learn graduate school logistics, faculty visits to medicine and law and a newsletter.
We are going to have an OIE newsletter. I’m excited for this one because I see newsletters as a vehicle for student engagement and participation. Students can develop their writing by participating in the newsletter, especially for English majors or just in general because you’re going to be writing for the rest of your life. We will include cultural enrichment opportunities, which will resemble or include visits to museums, theaters and other sites of interest to students. We will also have leadership opportunities; these will be student leaders or ambassadors of the Bobcat First program. Their responsibilities will be more in line with the program, recruitment and social media presence. Overall, we will focus on student voices and feedback; they will have a big imprint on some of the upcoming workshops and programs.
All of these changes are aimed at creating multiple layers of support. Ultimately, since the program is for students, I’m only here to guide them and give them a vision, but students will have a say in what they want the program to be. The students will guide the program while I help lead them. This is only the beginning of a long journey for the OIE, but we will get there. I am convinced that we will get there. »