September 15, 2011Silvester (Sly) Mata has been named the associate director of diversity and inclusiveness for AAP. He joined the college in early August. Mata’s responsibilities include providing counseling on academic and personal issues, and professional development; conducting outreach programs and workshops; advising the Minority Organization of Architecture, Art, and Planning (MOAAP) and Cornell’s chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS); and recruiting both undergraduate and graduate multicultural students.
Increasing the college’s diversity is a high priority for the administration, but Mata says there are a number of obstacles to getting multicultural students to Cornell, and to AAP in particular.
“Cornell costs a lot, and the financial aid process can be daunting — especially for students who are the first in their family to attend college,” says Mata. In addition, AAP has some unique and challenging admission requirements, such as a portfolio submission for B.Arch. students, which may prevent some students from applying. Mata says that one of the best ways to overcome these obstacles is to have a group of multicultural alumni act as ambassadors. “If potential students see someone they can relate to who is really enthusiastic about the college, it will help immensely with recruiting.”
Mata says another key to attracting multicultural applicants is making sure they know that once they are here, the college and university are committed to helping them succeed and have an exceptional experience. With that in mind, his first priority has been establishing a rapport and relationship with the existing AAP multicultural students. “They need to know that there are people here who genuinely care about them and want them to do well,” he says.
“Having someone like Sly in this role has had a really positive impact on my experience at AAP,” says Brandon Taylor (B.S. URS ’13). “I consider him to be a great role model of leadership, excellence, and friendship. His work with the student organizations in the college in this short amount of time has been phenomenal.”
Mata comes to Cornell after receiving his master’s degree in public administration from Texas A&M University. He received his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, where his work focused on the retention of low-income students.