The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Dean of Multicultural Life Tommy Woon resigns after 4 years

By Kyle Coombs

After four and a half years as Dean of Multicultural Life, Tommy Lee Woon has resigned in order to return to Stanford University where he worked as Assistant Dean of Students and Multicultural Educator from 1993 to 2002. Today is his last day at Macalester.The choice to leave is relatively unprecedented at Macalester, he said, but he chose to stay until he had finished his responsibilities at the college.

“Stanford wanted me to start in January,” Woon said. “They were anxious to hire someone to start last fall. I delayed starting my new job until April.”

Woon said he is excited to start the newly-created position of Director of Diversity and First-Generation Programs at Stanford. He will work as the primary resource for the low-income and first-generation college students who make up 24 percent of the community there.

“As a first generation student who grew up in a low-income family,” Woon said, “I am returning to my original career interest at a school I know and where I worked for nine years.”

Growing up 30 minutes from Stanford, he said that he plans to support family elders who live there – including his father who has health issues – with his new position.

Woon first came to Macalester in 2006 after working at Dartmouth College in the Multicultural Affairs and Student Leadership Development Office. He decided to come to Macalester because this community allowed his partner to find a meaningful career.

Woon said he is proud of his accomplishments with the Department of Multicultural Life. This summer, he worked with students to create the video, “Overcoming Bias, Hate, and Harassment,” which the student affairs staff can use to educate on bias issues. He also worked closely with the library on their diversity quilt, he said, which will be revealed and on display next month. He also started the Common Ground campaign to address the issues of violence and hate towards Muslims in the post-9/11 United States. Several other organizations including the Community Matters committee and the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life are taking over this program and plan to address it in the fall during the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Woon said.

“I am on the national advisory board [of Common Ground],” he said, “and plan to stay in touch with Mac students and colleagues about this program as it unfolds.”

Jonas Buck ’13, the Assistant to the Dean of Multicultural Life, said that he Woon told him he would be leaving in an e-mail over Winter Break. Buck said that Woon will be missed, but he understands his decisions.

“The e-mail was kind of a shock,” Buck said, “but I think he has legitimate reasons for going [to Stanford].”

Buck worked with Woon on a video that followed the progress of the library’s diversity quilt and improved the Department of Multicultural Life’s web presence, he said. Buck reports to the Director of the Lealtad-Suzuki Center, Karla Benson Rutten, and does not think his responsibilities will change after Woon leaves.

“I had a lot of autonomy with this job in the first place,” Buck said. “The presence of Tommy doesn’t impress on getting work done.”

Buck said that he has not been informed about who Woon’s successor will be or whether someone will take up an interim position in the coming years.

Woon’s position is subject to the Vice President of Student Affairs, Laurie Hamre, who was unavailable for comment on the future of the position.

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