Michigan State University Libraries named Alexandra Rivera as their new Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Organizational Development on Oct. 27. This new role will incorporate both inclusion efforts and organizational changes outlined in the Libraries’ 2019 strategic planning session.
Rivera, who is currently the Senior Associate Librarian for Student Success and Community Engagement at the University of Michigan Library, will begin her role at MSU on Dec. 1, according to a press release announcing the hire.
The Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Organizational Development is a new position created in order to expand the libraries’ inclusion efforts. The position was originally supposed to launch in Feb. of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic halted hiring efforts until summer 2021.
Dean of Libraries Joseph Salem said Rivera’s role would be divided into multiple parts, but they will all serve the overall goal of forwarding the libraries’ strategic plan.
“We’re trying to create the library from a skills and a values perspective that we articulated to ourselves in our strategic plan,” Salem said.
First up on the agenda is revitalizing internal values. Salem said one of Rivera’s first jobs would be establishing a culture focused on the aforementioned strategic plan.
Educational opportunities for staff members are the most tangible examples of this. Continual education programs on diversity, equity and inclusion have been in place since the summer.
“We’ve made some progress around some of the educational opportunities for our staff,” Salem said. “We’ve been providing that kind of a sustained educational program over the last few months.”
The library has also made changes in the MSU Main Library building itself to improve access and inclusivity. When it was recently remodeled, the Libraries took the opportunity to include numerous inclusive facilities.
A “reflection room” was added, giving students an area to reflect, meditate and pray. Additionally, the library now includes three gender-neutral bathrooms.
Messaging is a big part of the Libraries’ new direction as well. Salem said he believes Rivera’s perspectives will allow them to communicate with students in a more inclusive manner.
“(We’re going to benefit from) someone who’s constantly engaging with those perspectives, with the way we move people through the building, or our online presence— with the way that we communicate out to others,” Salem said.
Rivera has held a myriad of positions within collegiate libraries across the nation. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications, broadcasting and production from Northern Arizona University and later earned a master’s degree in library and information assignments from the University of Michigan.
Past job titles include Assistant Librarian of Outreach and Instruction for the University of Arizona Libraries and Interim Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at the University of Michigan library. She also serves on the executive boards of the American Library Association and Joint Council of Librarians of Color.
In a press release, Rivera said she was excited to join MSU and advance the Libraries’ strategic plan.
“We know, now, we are capable of change,” Rivera wrote. “And, I think MSU Libraries are poised to truly effect change to ensure that all members of our MSU communities see themselves valued and reflected in our staff, resources and services.”
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