By Berber Jin
After more than five years at Stanford, Dereca Blackmon ’94 is stepping down as assistant vice provost and executive director of the Diversity and First-Gen (DGen) Office at the end of fall quarter. Widely revered for co-teaching Stanford’s intergroup communication course and for introducing new first-generation and low-income student support services, Blackmon told The Daily she will spend the next year pursuing personal “writing, speaking and business opportunities outside of Stanford.”
After joining the University in May 2014 as associate dean and director of the DGen Office, Blackmon helped establish and endow the Opportunity Fund, which helps assist undergraduate students experiencing temporary financial challenges. She also helped launch the yearly Stanford FLI Conference and a three-day orientation program designed to help first-generation and low-income students prepare for Stanford.
Blackmon also co-taught PSYCH 103: “Intergroup Communication” alongside cultural psychology pioneer Hazel Markus. A popular undergraduate offering, the course uses experiential activities to challenge biases about different identity groups in order to better facilitate communication across social contexts. According to Blackmon, the class had more than 250 students on its waiting list last quarter.
Blackmon said she hopes Stanford will build upon her work on inclusion training and education, particularly through Residential Education, Integrative Learning and the Presidential IDEAL initiative, a program designed to improve inclusion and accessibility as part of the University’s Long-Range Planning process.
“Our partnerships to date have been very successful and I am excited about the emerging vision from Student Affairs and what will be accomplished under the office’s new leadership,” Blackmon wrote in an email to The Daily.
Her departure comes at a time when many positions under the vice provost for student affairs are vacant, including assistant dean and associate director of the Black Community Services Center, associate dean of Residential Education and associate director of inclusion and diversity education.
Student Affairs spokesperson Pat Harris attributed these vacancies in part to ongoing efforts to enhance mental health services, improving the undergraduate residential system and meeting growing demand for community center, military-affiliated and first-generation and/or low-income services.
“As Student Affairs fills open positions, the division is deeply committed to applying equitable and inclusive hiring practices with the goal of recruiting staff members who reflect the diversity of our students,” Harris wrote in an email to The Daily.
Blackmon, whose research has been featured in Shawn Ginwright’s “Black Youth Rising” and Vajra Watson’s “Learning to Liberate,” expressed gratitude for the support she has received from Student Affairs and the general Stanford community in her five years at the University.
“I want to thank all the students and staff on this campus who have given their hearts, their faith and their hard work to make Stanford a place where all people belong,” she wrote. “I have been forever changed by your brilliance and generosity.”
Contact Berber Jin at fjin16 ‘at’ stanford.edu.