Alumni Spotlight: Mika'il Petin's New Position

Alumni Spotlight: Mika'il Petin's New Position

CS alumnus Mika'il Petin has started a new position at Illinois College. Esma H. Celebioglu conducted a short exchange with Mika'il Petin in which he reflects on his new position and how he applies his Cultural Studies lens to his profession. 

Could you briefly explain your new position?

I am currently at Illinois College (IC), a small liberal arts institution in Jacksonville, Illinois. My titles are Associate Dean of Student Success in Academic Affairs and Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Also, I have the rank of assistant professor, though my official department affiliation has yet to be determined. Most likely, I will join the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies or Department of English. I am not teaching this year, but expect to be back in the classroom during the 2018-2019 academic year. That detail aside, I am equally excited and nervous about this chapter in my career with the new purview.

You also served as the Associate Director of African and African American Studies at George Mason University. Could you tell us a bit more about your new experiences at Illinois College as an assistant professor and as the Associate Dean of Student Success in Academic Affairs and Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

It was a pleasure to serve George Mason University as Associate Director of African and African American Studies. I was the recipient of many great opportunities to work with phenomenal colleagues and students. However, there is something to be said about being at a smaller institution, and the ways such an experience can afford a range of new possibilities. For example, I have been in several meetings with IC's president and/or provost, Dr. Barbara Farley and Dr. Catherine O'Connell respectively, about the development of new institutional policies. My time at IC has not been long at all. Yet, I have participated in multiple conversations with departments, such as Human Resources and Athletics, about best practices for the college. Further, I am slowly joining ongoing conversations with colleagues among the faculty core and professional staff to revise curriculum requirements for IC's general education and First Year Seminar program.

What are your primary duties for your new position?

In terms of responsibilities, I straddle the divide between academic affairs and student affairs. Some of my broad duties are to:

  • Provide strategic guidance on issues related to diversity and inclusion at the enterprise level.
  • Develop and implement programs, workshops, and seminars for all students, faculty and professional staff that create opportunities for positive discourse and a greater understanding of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, and religion.
  • Assist with recruitment, orientation, retention, leadership development, and overall support for students of color as well as partner with academic units, the Offices of Admission, Athletics, Campus Life, and Development and Alumni Services to create strong cultural competencies for all members of the campus community.

Lastly, how does your educational background on Cultural Studies contribute to your professional career?

What is the key take-away here? I believe that it is Cultural Studies as a discipline, but most importantly, as a PhD program at Mason, that deserves considerable credit for where I am currently. My development as an intellectual and as a person was enriched through my time in CS. The breadth of topics I bring to my current role from my interdisciplinary training permits me to, realistically, teach courses in several departments at IC. Sure, a lot depends on an individual's personal research interests, and with whom one works with during their time at Mason. To that point, think about the individuals from CS and their respective areas of specialty who contributed in various ways to my growth (e.g. Jessica Scarlata, Tim Gibson, Amal Amireh, Mark Hopson, Tony Samara, Cynthia Fuchs, Tim Kaposy, Peter Mandaville, Rosemary Jann, Scott Trafton, Denise Albanese, Roger Lancaster, Paul Smith, etc.). Needless to say, there are many others who deserve credit. My main point is that the type of flexibility I am speaking about here is invaluable to an institution. What I have been able to accomplish is truly a testament to what CS has to offer its students.