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In the Spirit of Service

A Q&A with Malik Crowder, MEC Assistant Director
Malik Crowder Sweatt Legacy Award

In a word, Malik Crowder would describe the Multicultural Engagement Center (MEC) as vibrant. On any given day, students who walk through the doors will find the center abuzz with event-planning meetings, social activities and celebrations. He enjoys being at the center of it all and working with students who are building and strengthening communities on campus. Among his many duties as the assistant director of the MEC, Crowder oversees events and celebrations, including the time-honored New Black Student Weekend and Black Graduation. He also co-teaches the MEC’s Leadership in Activism course and co-leads cultural immersion trips here in the state and overseas.

What do you enjoy about your work at the MEC?

I love that I get to help our student agency members develop their leadership skills and watch them grow throughout their journey here at UT—starting with the welcome events and ending with the big graduation celebrations that we do every year. We get to work with so many different populations of students, so it’s always a fun learning experience for everyone.

What do you love most about the MEC?

The great thing about the MEC is that throughout all these years, it has continued to be a hub for student gatherings. Even when the pandemic happened, and everything went online, they kept coming back for Zoom welcome sessions, cabinet meetings and many other events. I think that’s a great legacy of the MEC. No matter what’s going on, students are still drawn to our space for gatherings and celebrations of different cultures.

Are there any new developments in the works at MEC?

I’ve been working on expanding our various MEC Faculty Fellow events, which puts UT administrators and scholars in touch with students to help them network and build relationships. This offers students an opportunity to develop their professional development skills and explore grad school. Another area I’m working on is expanding and developing our MEC Advisory Board, in which our alumni, who are now professionals, can help with development and provide career opportunities for current MEC students.

What does it mean to you to be honored at the Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights?

I’m very honored to be recognized, especially at an event that celebrates a civil rights icon. Heman Sweatt opened the doors for African Americans—and other groups of students—here at UT. And it’s a tremendous honor to be celebrated in this way with my friends and colleagues here in the DDCE.

Reporting by Abbie Bard