The Inter Faculty Organization (IFO) has recognized Minnesota State University, Moorhead (MSUM) faculty member Dr. Phyllis May-Machunda with the Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of Multicultural Issues Award. Dr. May-Machunda has dedicated her professional life to advancing opportunities and awareness on multicultural issues at MSU Moorhead and within the community.
Dr. May-Machunda accepted the award and said, “I have worked to bring multicultural programming to campus and have actively worked to develop faculty’s knowledge of multicultural studies and social justice concerns here my entire career. I’m deeply humbled and thankful for this recognition.”
Dr. May-Machunda’s work on multicultural issues in higher education began when she joined MSUM as an Assistant Professor in 1989. In Dr. May-Machunda’s first decade at MSUM she co-founded and co-directed the Moorhead State University Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (MSUM SEED) Project from 1993-1998 and carried it into the next decade of her career from 2002-2007. She designed, secured funding from the Bush Foundation and led this multi-phased faculty and student development project for increasing knowledge about multicultural education, with the goal of curricular transformation. She also collaborated with local P-12 public school educator facilitators in monthly meetings to train P-12 teachers about diversity through SEED.
Meanwhile, Dr. May-Machunda was awarded several MSUM Faculty Improvement Grants between 1990-1997, and completed her dissertation focusing on folklore and ethnomusicology (receiving a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and later, a Bush Leadership Fellowship).
More recently, Dr. May-Machunda co-founded and co-directed the “Training Our Campuses Against Racism” (TOCAR) initiative from 2001-2014. Dr. May-Machunda developed, organized, fundraised, and programmed for this multi-campus, antiracism initiative funded by Otto Bremer Foundation and participating higher education institutions. She also co-directed the MSUM TOCAR Steering Team. With the Faculty from TOCAR, she co-developed the Antiracist Multiculturalism Across the Curriculum Workshops (ARMAC) held 2006-2008, 2010-2011, 2013. Another is planned for May 2016. Numerous faculty, staff, and community members have participated in these intensive and progressive series of workshops, and notable curricular and co-curricular changes across campus have resulted from this work. Dr. May-Machunda also developed TOCAR’s Multicultural Resource Center, which sponsored organized workshops, programming, and follow up discussions for faculty, staff, students and community/region and collaborated with other campus diversity programs.
Dr. May-Machunda also cofounded the Red River Antiracism Collaborative (RRARC) (a partnership between the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, and Minnesota State University Moorhead) and the HEART (Higher Education Antiracism Teams) Collaborative at the state level (active 2007-2013). She created the American Multicultural Studies major at MSUM in 2005 as well.
Dr. May-Machunda was successful in bringing the “Why Treaties Matter” exhibit to campus from the Minnesota Humanities Center in 2014, and organized a series of lectures and activities centered on this exhibit that she promoted through the Faculty Development Center.
Dr. May-Machunda has been a key player in the MSUM faculty development activities centered on multicultural issues. Over the past several years, she has led a series of discussions on common reads and other multicultural topics. Despite periodic lapses in funding due to budget stresses at the university level, she was successful in reinstating the ARMAC workshops this year and has been actively promoting them to new faculty members across campus, and to the School of Teaching and Learning faculty members as they strive to incorporate diversity into their teacher education curriculum.
Dr. May-Machunda is currently leading an effort to interact with Fargo-Moorhead community leaders of color and school districts on an “Absent Narrative” program that will be designed to invite new Americans and communities of color to tell their stories to P-12 educators so that these stories can be integrated into the curriculum.
The Multicultural Issues Committee is a section of the IFO made up of representatives that address the concerns of faculty of color throughout each of the 4 year campuses. The Inter Faculty Organization (IFO) is a union that takes professional responsibility for excellent, accessible, and inclusive public higher education in Minnesota and beyond. The IFO represents the interests, welfare, and aspirations of all faculty of the seven state universities of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system through collective bargaining, contract enforcement, and advocacy.