Arturo “Tito” Diaz (BS ’15) has always felt he belonged at UW–Madison. He credits his positive experience as a student of color largely to his involvement with his fraternity Lambda Theta Phi Latin, the Associated Students of Madison, and the P.E.O.P.L.E. Program, as well as conversations with fellow student leaders on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). But not all students of color find strong connections on campus like Diaz did. Now as the Kemper Foundation Director of the new Multicultural Center at the Wisconsin School of Business, Diaz wants to ensure every WSB student feels that same sense of belonging he did.
WSB’s Multicultural Center, which opened in Fall 2021 and will have its official launch in Fall 2022, functions as a hub for conversation and cocurricular programming around DEI. In his role, Diaz builds and delivers content that focuses on the academic, professional, social, and emotional well-being of historically underrepresented students and supports the development of an inclusive leadership mindset in all business students and the broader WSB community.
WSB: Why is it important for WSB to house a multicultural center?
Arturo Diaz: I think it’s twofold: First, we’re providing an opportunity for students to build community, get that sense of belonging, and see themselves in the business world. Then, we provide support for them to matriculate through their degree program so they can also build affinity within this community—meaning that the school has helped students achieve particular identity development needs which contribute to their lifelong success. When I look back on my undergraduate experience, it was filled with joy and activism and all the things I really like, so I was able to build a real love for the university. I very much want that for every student, and I believe the center can help provide that for them.
Second, the center will propel DEI efforts to develop more inclusive leaders throughout WSB. We’re strategically thinking about what it means to understand identities and raise consciousness about our assumptions related to things like board membership or project teams. It also highlights the importance of DEI in the professional setting, which can help businesses and teams grow in what they’re trying to achieve. Ultimately, we want to help answer the question, what exactly does it mean to be inclusive of others?
WSB: Why was this initiative appealing to you?
AD: There was so much student energy around this initiative and a call around carving out a space to build community for multicultural students within the Wisconsin School of Business, which I gravitated toward. I want to help students of all backgrounds who are interested in business to know that they can succeed here and see themselves as the business leaders of the future.
WSB: What type of programming will the Multicultural Center offer?
AD: Programming and events occurring at the center will highlight heritage and history months and other national events. We are launching a multilevel mentoring program, with MBA students mentoring undergrads and peer-to-peer mentoring among undergraduate students. We’re also partnering with other offices like undergraduate student life and various affinity groups to help the center achieve its mission. We look forward to working with our alumni and the Madison community on other programs.
WSB: Tell us about the physical space.
AD: The center, located on the second floor of Grainger Hall, has a multipurpose commons area, which is ideal for events and programming. It also houses two offices, a conference room, a quiet study space, and a room for prayer, meditation, and wellness.
The design of the center has been a collaborative effort from the beginning. Wisconsin MBA students hosted an art competition through the UW Green Fund last semester from which we were able to purchase over 10 pieces of artwork for and by multicultural students to put up in the center’s commons area.
WSB: How can alumni get involve with the Multicultural Center?
AD: My hope is to build better connections with alumni in multiple ways. There’s a big desire from our alumni to connect with and help mentor current students. Whether it is coming to the center, hosting a chat, or participating in a panel discussion, the center provides a unique opportunity for alumni to get involved. It’s a great outlet for those wanting to give back and provide insight. As an alumnus myself, my heart for this center really stems from wanting to pay and pave it forward.