Samira M. Payne has been named the first director of Black student initiatives in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Marquette University announced on Thursday.
The director of Black student initiatives position was the product of negotiations between university leadership and the Black Student Council last summer, acoording to a press release from the university, and its role was developed in collaboration with the President’s Commission on Racial Equity. The director of Black student initiatives is responsible for tracking progress of initiatives and programs aimed at increasing recruitment and retention of Black students and improving the campus climate.
Payne will report to Dr. William Welburn, vice president for inclusive excellence.
“In hiring a director of Black student initiatives, we are addressing a need that came directly from engagement with our student body, which makes the possible impact this role can play on campus so exciting,” Welburn said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to welcome Samira back to Marquette and to see what she will be able to accomplish in our office. As an alumna, she is familiar with the Black student experience at Marquette and will be able to connect deeply with our students in fostering an inclusive environment in line with the university’s Catholic, Jesuit mission.”
Payne earned a bachelor of arts degree in social welfare and justice from Marquette in 2010 before earning a master’s degrees in instructional leadership-policy studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago and nonprofit administration from Notre Dame.
“I am elated to return to a place that created the foundation of my professional life and to contribute to students in this way,” Payne said in a statement. “When I arrived at Marquette as a student, I was firmly rooted in my identity as a Black girl from the south side of Chicago. I felt out of place on an elite college campus, unsure of how to navigate the structures of a university, and of how to achieve the outcomes expected of a Marquette University graduate.
“Overcoming these barriers and finding success at Marquette and throughout my academic journey was largely shaped by the development of relationships, engagement with campus life and resources, and integration of campus and community to bring greater purpose to my work,” Payne continued. “My hope is to reduce barriers to students’ authentic engagement in their Marquette experience and to cultivate an environment where Black students can thrive.”