On Oct. 17, UC Irvine’s cultural organizations welcomed new faculty members in a ceremony at the Cross-Cultural Center.
The standing-room-only crowd was welcomed with a wall-shaking 15-minute performance by the Hansori drum team, followed by a musical presentation by Alpha Phi Alpha, a traditionally black fraternity that counts Martin Luther King, Jr. and W.E.B. DuBois among its former members.
‘At the CCC, we explore culture and we celebrate life,’ said Anna Gonzalez, associate dean of students and director of the CCC. ‘These two very loud performances, coming from the heart, are our symbol of welcoming to the new faculty.’
Gonzalez spoke about the history of the CCC, which was founded on Oct. 16, 1974.
‘Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of the CCC,’ Gonzalez said. ‘Last year [we celebrated] our 30th when we had a magnificent gala of over 350 people, as well as a campuswide cultural night that was packed.’
Since its inception, the CCC has grown to become an integral part of campus life, according to Gonzalez.
‘Today, it’s the center of campus, and it challenges students, faculty, staff and the administration to think about relationships of dominance and subordination, as well as those relations in our society,’ Gonzalez said. ‘While some might regard the CCC as a ghetto, as the food and fiesta center of the campus, the longer you stay at UCI, I know that you will realize that the Center keeps people involved. Our campuswide programs are very well-attended.’
Gonzalez said that the CCC tries to spread its core values throughout UCI.
‘Unlike Las Vegas, what happens at the Center does not stay at the Center,’ Gonzalez said. ‘The CCC believes that it is our obligation to transform UCI to be aligned with our values. These values are social justice, education, empowerment, awareness, diversity and unity. … I welcome you to the Center and hope that you will join us in our continuing mission to transform UCI.’
Thirteen new faculty members were honored at the ceremony, and were presented with jars of candy by representatives of the CCC umbrella organizations.
Chancellor Michael Drake was excited about the new faculty.
‘I expected the quality of work that they had done coming in,’ Drake said. ‘I also kind of expected the breadth of experience that they would bring. So that was fine. I expected that. I was pleased by the ethnic diversity of the faculty. … I was very excited to see that the faculty was starting to do … a better job of reflecting the people that we have to educate and learn from.’
Drake said that diversity was essential to the campus.
‘Two things that I always find myself working toward were diversity and inclusion on one side, and excellence on the other,’ Drake said. ‘You can find people that say that you compromise excellence to build diversity. What I’ve seen in my career at the university over all these years is that to get either one to work the way you want, you need the two together. … We have quite a lot of diversity, and we have tremendous excellence on this campus.’
Drake urged students and faculty to never be complacent with how well they are doing, but to strive to be even better.
‘What it’s really all about is all of us being the best we can be every day, and once we’ve done that, be the best we can the next day,’ Drake said. ‘And that’s how you keep inspired every day.’