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New Donahue Institute Director Expands Cultural Conversations

Dr. Jesse Tauriac

Raising Awareness: Dr. Jesse Tauriac

It might just be the perfect job for Dr. Jesse Tauriac. Earlier this fall, Tauriac, an associate professor of Psychology and a researcher in cross-cultural and interracial sensitivity, was named the director of Lasell's newly re-named Nancy Lawson Donahue ‘49 Institute for Ethics, Diversity, and Inclusion.

The Institute received the new moniker last spring to reflect the College's shift toward addressing issues of diversity and ethics both on and off campus. (Longtime director and Sociology Professor Tessa leRoux announced a return to full-time teaching last May.)

For Tauriac, who has taught Psychology as a full-time member of Lasell's Social Sciences Department since fall 2012, the new focus on raising awareness of diversity issues is essential.

"I want to ensure that students from all backgrounds feel welcome, included, and valued in this community, and that their experiences and viewpoints are represented in curriculum, programming, and in a level of cultural sensitivity in our conversations with one another," he says.

As director of the Institute, Tauriac wears multiple hats, including serving as the College's diversity officer and playing a leadership role in the new junior-level Ethics Experience component of the College's Core Curriculum, which will launch in the 2016-17 academic year.

"At Lasell, Jesse has emerged as a leader in fostering awareness of issues of diversity and inclusion throughout our community," Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Ostrow says, "and we all look forward to great things from him in this new, important role for the College."

Among Tauriac's many goals is to help the community engage in "courageous conversations" about areas of difference, various forms of privilege and oppression, and how to build alliances across differences.

"I want those things to be reflected not only in the student body, but also the staff and faculty," adds Tauriac.

In addition to overseeing daily operations and planning activities related to the Institute, he coordinates educational efforts across campus focused on diversity. Tauriac also serves as a resource for all students, staff, and faculty, helping to ensure that the College is fostering and promoting social justice, global consciousness, human rights, civic engagement, and inclusion on campus.

Tauriac earned both his PhD and MA degrees in Clinical Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He holds a BA in Psychology from Boston University. He has served as a consultant in the areas of cross-cultural and interracial communication, and as a clinician at The Charter School, Cambridge, Cambridge Health Alliance, and the UMass Boston. Tauriac's doctoral and post-doctoral research focuses on resources and on-campus support factors that promote academic success for underrepresented ethnic minority undergraduates and first-generation college students. He has presented and published widely.

The College's focus on diversity and inclusion came to the fore last fall, when Lasell decided to suspend its international service learning trip to Uganda in the wake of political and social threats to members of society who identify as gay or transgender. The College also supports an active Diversity and Inclusion Committee made up of faculty, staff and students, a committee that Tauriac is an active member of.

Through a roster of timely events, ongoing conversations and thoughtful analysis, Tauriac hopes that Lasell graduates will be better equipped to navigate differences in our society.

"My hope is for every student who leaves Lasell to have developed the skill to be able to discuss areas of difference, voice concerns or challenges that might arise and then to reflect on that discourse, and to repair when a rift arises during a cross-cultural conversation," Tauriac tells Leaves.

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