Black Cultural Center moves to old international building

Andrea Garr-Barnes, director of the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, gets settled into her new office at the Cultural Center in the Dero Downing Building on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. WKU’s Cultural Center spent 15 years in Potter Hall before moving into its new location on Friday. The Cultural Center serves students in under-represented groups on campus, including blacks, latinos and members of the LGBTQI community. Nick Wagner/HERALD

WKU has recently opened a new Black Cultural Center on campus.

Last Tuesday, President Gary Ransdell emailed faculty and staff to announce administrative changes taking place as well as the opening of the Black Cultural Center on State Street in what was formerly the Sofia-Downing International Center.

The director of the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Andrea Garr-Barnes, shared her excitement over the move and merger with the new Black Cultural Center.

“We’re in the process of packing [and] tagging. We’re purging; we’re getting rid of old things that have been here for like 10 or more years, and we are looking forward to our new move to State Street,” Barnes said. “This is the new site where the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion will be with the Black Cultural Center.”

As of Feb. 1, the center was open to the campus community with the idea of helping students, faculty and staff. The center will be available for the interest of all students with a focus on the culture of under-represented students.

Barnes said this new move will only expand the kind of work and primary responsibility they have had as the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. This does not mean that there will be changes in duties and responsibilities.

“Prior to moving to the Black Cultural Center, we were working with groups of under-represented students,” Barnes said. “This year was the first year we worked with the African Student Union, and also for the first time, the African Student Union dancers participated in the outstanding Black Graduation ceremony. We’ve also worked with the LGBTQIAA population.”

Barnes said the office has been working with different groups of diverse students as well as working with black students for years.

“This is a wonderful, once in a lifetime opportunity,” Barnes said. To students and the campus community, she said, “Come out, come see us, tell us your ideas, come share with us, come hang out with us, come plan with us, come dream with us — let’s be many communities under one community.”

Ransdell said the timing was right for the opening of the Black Cultural Center.

“We had a place that wasn’t going to cost us money to buy,” he said of the Sofia-Downing building on State Street. “When the Honors College and International Center was finished, our International Enrollment Services and International Student Services moved out of that house, and it became vacant.”

He said the Black Cultural Center was the right fit for the vacancy.

“It seemed like a good use of the space to me,” he said. “It’s good space, and it’s accessible space … it just seemed to work well.”

Ransdell went on to describe his excitement for the new center.

“It’s a good set of dynamics and opportunities,” he said. “I look forward to being invited to something and going over there.”