Justin Rose is the new director of diversity and inclusion at the UIS Diversity Center, overseeing initiatives to promote a diverse and accepting campus. Rose, who grew up on the west side of Chicago, describes himself as a “student from humble beginnings,” and noted a lack of mentorship in his early years.
This changed as “certain things started to align” in his life academically and socially in high school, thanks in large part to the Partnership to Educate and Advance Kids (PEAK). Through these experiences, Rose learned that “you can’t make it anywhere without any support, without others truly reaching out to help you.” This is a lesson that Rose took to heart and it instilled in him a desire to help others. In his own words, “those individuals poured into me and I wanted to pour into others.”
At UIS, Rose earned his bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in African American studies and a master’s degree in public administration. He is currently in the third year of his doctoral program at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying in the education policy, organization, and leadership program. His goal is to ultimately become president, chancellor, or vice chancellor of student affairs. After attaining his master’s degree, Rose was offered a civil service position at UIS as the coordinator for student diversity programming which became the student programming advisor at the Diversity center. Rose cited Dr. Clarice Ford, vice chancellor of student affairs as one of his mentors at UIS, saying “She just leaned into me to help build me up as a man and as a scholar.” As director, Rose will oversee various initiatives to provide outreach and support to underrepresented students. Alongside this, Rose said that a significant part of the work will be responding to student concerns and taking a leadership role in diversity conversations, “to pull student identity groups from the fringes of society to the core.”
Rose went on to say, “We understand that [with] higher education, at a predominantly white institution, it is easy for students of color and students of struggle to get lost in the shuffle. Our goal is to advocate for all students, but with a special emphasis on certain initiatives and certain student demographics.” While discussing the main issues he’ll be pursuing as director, Rose outlined his five top priorities. First, he wants to ensure that students understand that the Diversity Center is an advocacy space for all students, “that somewhere in this center or between the work that we’re doing, you belong.” Second, he seeks to grow the center and potentially become a research entity capable of tackling such issues as microaggressions and handling campus climate issues in order to keep the campus informed and ahead of major issues. Third, he hopes to maintain expansion of the center’s current work and “become a catalyst for diversity efforts.” Fourth, he seeks to increase professional development among the center’s staff. Lastly, he hopes to continue recruiting students of diverse backgrounds, with particular emphasis on students of color, and being a space that connects students to the university and helps them become leaders in their community.
The largest problem he hopes to address during his tenure is the isolation and lack of communication between departments and student organizations by improving collaborative efforts and information sharing. In his concluding remarks, Rose said, “I’m grateful that UIS was able to invest in one of their own… I think UIS being able to build into me, allows me to build into others.”