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Gary Santos Mendoza Takes the Helm of Rutgers-Newark’s Intercultural Resource Center

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Gary Santos Mendoza

Gary Santos Mendoza is the new director of the Intercultural Resource Center at Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N). The Intercultural Resource Center falls under the purview of the Division of Student Affairs and is located in Conklin Hall. Charged with promoting an inclusive campus culture, the center fulfills its mission by advancing social justice and exploring intersectional and diversity issues.

Santos Mendoza joins RU-N from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) - Broward Campuses, where for five years he served in a long list of roles, including graduate financial assistant of business and financial and auxiliary services, adjunct instructor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology, assistant director of diversity and multicultural affairs, assistant director of campus life, and faculty/staff advisor of alternative spring break. Prior to FAU, Santos Mendoza worked at Florida International University - Biscayne Bay Campus for two years also in various student-serving capacities while earning his master’s degree in higher education administration.

After spending seven years in South Florida, Santos Mendoza relishes his return to the Northeast. “I’m excited to be at Rutgers-Newark to have the opportunity to engage with a robust and active student population, all within 25 miles of my hometown,” said Santos Mendoza, a Harlem native. “It’s also great to be in a place where I can enjoy the four seasons again,” he added.

Upon his arrival in August 2019, Santos Mendoza embarked upon a listening tour with students, deans, and directors to learn more about RU-N’s culture, ascertain how to bolster the existing partnerships among the Intercultural Resource Center and academic and cultural units, and devise a solid mission and goals for the center.

“There’s always room in higher education to strengthen the relationship between academia and student affairs. My discussions with students and the university’s deans and directors will help to inform critical opportunities to facilitate diversity and inclusion conversations campus-wide,” Santos Mendoza said.

A fan of intergroup dialogue, Santos Mendoza plans to train faculty, Student Affairs staff, and graduate students on how to facilitate effective conversations among distinct and intersectional social groups. Santos Mendoza authored an article and book chapter on intersectional social groups: “Queer Latinx…Yep We’re Here,” Diverse Issues in Higher Education (Mar. 6, 2019); and “Testimonios of Entry-Level Latina/o/x Student Affairs Professionals,” with Karla Cruze-Silva and Roberto Cruze, No Ways Tired: The Journey for Professionals of Color in Student Affairs, edited by Monica Galloway Burke and U. Monique Robinson (Vol. 1, Information Age Publishing, 2019).

“My ultimate goal is to create safe – or what I like to call ‘brave’ – spaces where people feel empowered to examine intersectionality and multiple identities. Intergroup dialogues go a long way to achieving that goal.”

Two groups of particular interest for the Intercultural Resource Center are members of the LGBTQ community and undocumented students.

“So far, we have conducted five intergroup dialogues to address the issues of these two groups,” remarked Santos Mendoza. “I also want to do more that target faith and spirituality.”

Santos Mendoza currently resides in Teachers Village in downtown Newark. When he is not leading his five-member staff, he spends time exploring the area and socializing with friends.

“I also travel to New York City a lot since my family is just one train stop away now,” he smiled.

Watch this video to learn more about Santos Mendoza.