Shippensburg University recently hired a new Director for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. Manuel Ruiz has worked in higher education for 20 years, and before coming to SU, worked at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.
“I’ve been here for six weeks and I thoroughly enjoy it here,” Ruiz said. His office “handles all things diversity related,” he said.
When asked why he wanted to work at SU, Ruiz spoke highly of the school. “It aligns with my interests. I love the institution. I like its mission statement of putting students first. Without students, we don’t run an institution,” he said.
Ruiz shared the question that will shape the focus of his work, “We have something good here, but how do we make it better? That’s what this administration is looking at currently.”
He is very focused on making himself available for students to speak with and wants to build meaningful relationships within the campus. “I think students appreciate when you are authentic and transparent with them,” Ruiz said, “I think it’s important that students see that human side of us.” Ruiz wants students to feel comfortable talking to him, and wants to create an open community for students and faculty on campus.
“My mission is to empower students to step out of their comfort zone and be comfortable with the uncomfortableness,” Ruiz said. His mission is also to empower students to understand internationality on campus.
To fulfill this goal, Ruiz will need the help of students.“I want students to be change agents,” Ruiz said, “I need students to be willing to engage in critical discourse and be transparent.” He wants students to “live and breathe the message of this institution.”
Ruiz is very focused on student engagement on campus. Student involvement is important to him, and is critical for Ruiz to reach his goals.
Ruiz talked about what he plans to do during his tenure. He wants to instate the first social justice institution on campus for student leaders as well as faculty.
In addition, he plans to introduce a new event on campus: “Social Justice Talks.” The talks will be confidential and provide students with a space to ask questions, share experiences and learn from each other.
“It’s important to have a presence in any role. It’s important that you get out and listen to students,” Ruiz said. He plans to instate these Social Justice Talks after fall break, and they will be open to any and all students.
Ruiz has a challenge and a piece of advice for every student here, “Do something that you’ve never done, and it will be life changing.”