The Office for Equity and Diversity is excited to welcome Meligha Garfield (he/him) as the inaugural director for the Black Cultural Center (BCC) at the University of Utah. The BCC will work to holistically enrich, educate, and advocate for students, faculty, and staff through Black centered programming, culturally affirming educational initiatives, and retention strategies – and Garfield is here to lead that charge.
Hailing from Rochester, New York, Garfield holds a B.A. in Government and a Master of Public Administration from New Mexico State University (NMSU) where he was previously the Programs Coordinator for the Black Programs Department. He has implemented outreach and retention services, served as coordinator and advisor in Black programs, and managed numerous departmental programming and events while at NMSU – many of which he hopes to start at the U.
In this Q&A with Garfield, we ask some personal and whimsical questions to get to know our new director.
What attracted you to this position?
I was attracted to the faculty, staff and student activism in putting the Center together; the University of Utah’s history of Ethnic Studies; and the hard-working and creative team under the Office for Equity and Diversity.
We hear this is your first time living in Utah, what do you think so far? Anything unexpected?
It’s definitely a change in pace from Rochester, New York and Las Cruces, New Mexico. Salt Lake City is beautiful, with its greenery, wide streets, huge mountains, second to none entertainment and vibrant community. As time goes on, I can’t wait to see the city and campus unfold and compare its winter to the winters of Rochester. Having experienced, six feet of snow and lake effect in New York, I have a unique perspective on the meaning of cold.
Who’s your role model, or who inspires you?
I have several role models I look up to for different reasons. First are my parents. Not only are they my first role models, but in a lot of aspects, I’m the spitting image of them – everything from their mannerisms, dedication, perseverance and overall spirit. Second is my mentee and friend Darnica Holt. Despite all we have been through, she seems to always find a way and has taught me a lot of what a real friend is. My last role model is Neil deGrasse Tyson. The guy is brilliant; he can explain anything and has me geeking about outer space and just life in general. Plus, he is also a New York Native.
If you could compare yourself to any animal, which would it be and why?
I would compare myself to the Tardigrade (water bear) – microscopic creatures that are some of the toughest on Earth. They can be found in every environment and survive radiation and intense pressure. They are also the only creatures on Earth that can survive the vacuums of space – and in a lot of ways can regenerate like Wolverine from the X-men. I compare myself to this magnificent creature because I believe I have strong perseverance and will. Despite adversity, I strive to reach my goals and desires. Nothing will hold me back.
What do you do for fun?
I love going to the movie theatre. When I was a kid, I would try to go and scout out the best theatres in town. I love the seats, the overpriced snacks and being amongst several people watching a movie. My other hobbies include reading, researching and radio/voice-over work. Several people throughout my life have stated I have a “golden radio voice” and capitalizing on a hobby is always a plus. I’m also a big fan of league kickball and an avid Marvel comics and movie follower.
How do you de-stress or practice self-care?
Meditation, conversation and taking myself out of a toxic situation.
Come by the Black Cultural Center to meet our new director in person, or you can visit with him at the Black Cultural Center’s Grand Opening on September 5th!