In July, Alicia Edwards joined Florida Coastal School of Law as the Assistant Dean of Multicultural Affairs. Edwards brings more than 10 years of direct student experience in higher education, and has worked in multicultural affairs at the University of Iowa and the University of Michigan. Most recently, she was Assistant Director, Student Activities & Multicultural Student Affairs at Southern Methodist University (SMU), where she was the recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Administrator Students’ Association Award for “giving unselfishly to the students and the University as a whole.”
Although Coastal Law students come from 46 states and numerous countries, its enrollment pales in comparison to those found at the Big Ten universities and the larger SMU. Edwards has no concerns, and is in fact excited, about the more intimate setting.
“The issues and the work are the same, regardless of the ‘clientele,’” Edwards said. “I thrive on building true, sincere relationships with students, faculty and staff. I can already see that Florida Coastal operates like a family with a positive environment that will promote that type of interaction.”
Edwards’ passion for multiculturalism springs from her own background. Bi-racial, she recounts growing up in a household where respect and celebration of both cultures were a huge part of daily life. As a student and administrator at the University of Iowa, she found a home in the multicultural affairs department, realizing that she could make her passion her career. Her experience expanded greatly at the University of Michigan, a school recognized for its work in diversity, social justice and driving a dialogue on multicultural issues.
Edwards’ early plans are to review the school’s cultural inclusion programs, examine the services offered to underrepresented student groups to help them succeed, and ensure that diversity training for faculty, staff and students gives everyone the cultural competency tools necessary to work with different cultures.
Edwards laughed when asked if it were a coincidence that her job arc has taken her to progressively warmer climates.
“I don’t think I would ever move north again,” she said.
Coastal Law’s Office of Multicultural Affairs addresses the needs, issues and concerns of students in nationality, ethnicity, language, gender, and sexual orientation groups. Its functions include representing and presenting these students’ perspectives to the Coastal Law community. The office supports diversity programming to develop appreciation for multiculturalism, and promotes the academic and personal growth of underrepresented student groups.